To My Younger Self

Valen as a childI’ve learned a lot from living with PKD since the age of 10. PKD and the health issues I’ve endured have taught me all facets of strength, emotionally and physically. I believe what we go through in our youth has a large impact on our future. We learn and grow from experiences. At times when reflecting back on our childhood, we say, “I wish I would have known then what I know now.”

Looking back on living with health issues as a child, I would have told my younger self:

  • Although epilepsy was your first health issue to come to light at five years old, it will not be your last, and that is okay because you are strong enough to handle whatever comes your way.
  • Even though you don’t have many friends to connect with now, you are going to have an amazing community and circle of support when you get older.
  • PKD and your other health issues will not define you.
  • Living with kidney disease will be your strength, not your weakness.
  • Even though you can’t play sports now because of your enlarged polycystic kidneys, your drive, competitiveness and motivation for life will come in handy in the years to come. You are in training to become a medical athlete!
  • There are so many others living with PKD. You are not alone.
  • You are here for a reason. Trust in this, as it will unfold as you get older.
  • Although you had surgery in 8th grade to correct your severe scoliosis, that issue will reappear later in life. It is okay because, like always, you will find a way to use this challenge to help others.
  • You will be a part of a “transplant” miracle when you are 19 years old.
  • You will always be rich in love
  • Your life will be extraordinary-extraordinarily challenging and extraordinarily beautiful.

Reflecting on childhoodWe are always evolving, learning and growing throughout each phase of our lives. I’ve learned a lot from childhood to adulthood, and I know that pattern will continue. We have the choice to grow from our challenges and I’m proud of the woman that my younger self grew into. I’m not sure that I wish I would have known then what I know now. I might have been scared knowing all that I was about to endure in life and I might have underestimated my strength. I’ve learned the importance of living in the moment, trusting that everything happens for a reason, never losing hope, and remaining positive. Know that we are strong enough to battle whatever comes our way and that everything will be ok. I unconsciously believed and lived by all of this as a child and consciously do the same as an adult.

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What would you tell your younger self?


  1. Christine Richer

    Hi Valen!

    You and I share the same life philosophy – just keep making positives out of negatives! You can’t control what happens to you, but you can decide how to respond to it. It took me a long time to blossom in life, but I’ve become stronger in the face of adversity.

    Take care, Chris

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Christine!
      Love that we share the same life philosophy and wonderful to hear that you have blossomed into a strong woman with a positive spirit! You should be proud of yourself!
      Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Dwight Odland

    Great post, Valen. I would tell my older self that everyone has something, and PKD is my “something.” And that my health is one of the most important things in my life, especially as I get older, so do what you can to maximize results of things you can control and have perspective on the things you can’t.

    • Valen Keefer

      Thanks so much Dwight! Perfectly and beautifully said. Thank you very much for sharing your wise sentiments. 🙂

  3. Javier

    That was very inspiring, thank you let’s stay strong

    • Valen Keefer

      Glad you enjoyed this post Javier! Yes, staying strong is very important! 🙂 Wishing you strength and a great weekend!

  4. marco

    You are Wise and Courageous and probably selfless. Thank you, Chris.

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you for your sweet sentiments, they mean a lot! I appreciate your support in reading my blog. Take care!

  5. Jeanie Kinney

    I have learned that it is true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    • Valen Keefer

      YES Jeanie! You are so right! Thank you for sharing this. I hope you are feeling well and doing great! Big hugs! xo

  6. Louise DeVall

    Yes God made you to be strong before you were born. He knew you could and would handle all that would come your way. I was told I would never have what my dad had pkd. by kidney specialist. Found out 10years layer they were so wrong after a terrible car accident. My kidneys show 90 to 95 percent coverage. But I have better reading then dr. We are strong in spite of . God Bless

    • Valen Keefer

      That’s very sweet! Thank you!!!
      You are so right, we are strong in spite of! Thank you for sharing. I hope your health is well and wish you all the best.


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