Prayer Flag

Whether metaphorically or literally speaking, we have all faced mountains in our lives. Sometimes we choose a particular peak and set off on an adventure to the top. Other times a mountainous problem is thrust upon us to overcome. It takes determination and inner strength to get to the top; qualities many of us with PKD possess. Part of the excitement of life is its hills and valleys. As we stand at the forefront of a mountain placed before us with our head tilted back looking towards the sky, it is natural to question, “why is this happening to me?” I hope our will to survive, faith, friends and family, assure us that we can rise to the top of challenges as high as the Himalayas.

Our own actions, exciting news or the kind gestures of others can make us feel on top of the world. I am still processing an amazing act of kindness I learned of this week. I received a message from Maciej Cichocki, an ARPKD father. His son, Fryderyk, is a young boy with ARPKD who received a kidney transplant. This past November, Maciej set off on a month-long adventure from Poland to Nepal. His trek – full of passion and purpose – led him to Thorong-La Pass in the Nepal Himalayas. He emailed me to let me know that at the top of the pass, which is 17,769 feet above sea level, he placed a prayer flag for his son and for myself. On the prayer flag for me, Maciej wrote, “Valen – PKD Will Not Beat Me.”

Prayer Flag 3Prayer Flag 2

Maciej said that he believes in consciousness and involvement. How concentrating on real needs and marking them were one of the reasons he placed Nepali prayer flags. It was a way to quietly mark his thoughts. He said this act was him putting a sign of his highest interest. I have never met or connected with Maciej other than through this blog. My gratitude for Maciej including me on this magical and meaningful journey is immeasurable.

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There is something miraculous about standing atop of a mountain. The quietness is soothing yet invigorating. I feel very at peace, like when I stood on top of Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park where Noah and I got married. When having such a majestic bird’s eye view of nature, my to-do list vanishes and I focus on what really matters in life. The simple pleasures. The gift of life.

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Maciej chose to courageously ascend a huge Himalayan mountain. He would like to visit the Thorong-La Pass again in a few years with his son. This will be a wonderful trip for the two of them to look forward to and to experience such wonder together, including the spot where Fryderyk’s prayer flag is displayed. I wish I could be there on that momentous day, however, I know I will be there in spirit. I am honored to have been a part of Maciej’s amazing feat. I smile, envisioning a prayer flag with my name on it waving in the wind on top of a mountain in Nepal. Maciej said that he agrees with me in that only by taking the time to describe your feelings and circumstance, can others feel that they are not alone. Never underestimate how far your message and spirit can soar. Thanks to Maciej, my spirit and “our” message, PKD Will Not Beat Me, is soaring high up in the Himalayas.

What message would you write on your prayer flag?


  1. Cara

    Beautiful story of your determination to spread this word around the world to enlighten so many to this disease. You have a wonderful way of telling a story each month which inspires me to do good in the world. Thank you Valen Cover Keefer!

    • Valen Keefer

      Dearest Carla,
      You are one of the sweetest and kindest women I know. I’m so grateful to have you in my life. Thank you for your friendship, love and continued support. It means so much to me. xoxo


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