About Us

Welcome to Blessed (but Stressed)!

We write to know that we are not alone-we hope you find that YOU are not alone, either.  The caregiver’s journey often seems interminable, lonely and uncontrollable.  There IS hope.   Join us as we share our stories and our experiences with you.

Anita OjedaAnita Strawn de Ojeda

On a cold February morning, two months after her husband’s miraculous recovery from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with central nervous system (CNS) involvement, Anita found herself scarcely able to roll out of bed. She craved the quiet comfort of her pillow and a dark room, and couldn’t understand why everything seemed so difficult. After all, God had watched over her and her family during their darkest hours, when doctors had little hope that Pedro would recover. Why couldn’t she bounce out of bed like a blessed believer?

When Pedro received his initial diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Anita, like any other person faced with a new role as primary caregiver, threw herself into caring for Pedro. Franticly researching treatment options, learning an entire new vocabulary, living at the hospital—all while trying to maintain her job and take care of her kids. During the course of her husband’s eight-month battle with cancer, she traded weight with him, shooting up to 185 lbs. while he sank to 130 lbs. at the worst point of his illness. But that extra weight seemed like a small thing compared to gaining her husband back.

Knowing that her daughters and husband still needed her helped Anita get up each morning, but she knew something had gone terribly awry. After all, God had blessed her family with Pedro’s successful fight with cancer, a good job and a supportive family and community. Those extra fifty-five pounds would eventually go away, wouldn’t they? Day after day, as her husband convalesced, people assured her that God had blessed them. If anyone asked her how SHE was doing, Anita would glowingly gush, “Just great!” All the while feeling resentful, and then mad at herself for her resentment. It seemed like a maze with no exit.

Since that bleak February day, Anita has come to understand that she suffered from mild depression and severe stress. Her caregiver’s journey stretched past the healing of the one she cared for, and turned into a personal quest to find balance and good health in her own life. She invites you into her experience as a caregiver, and hopes you’ll see her as a companion in YOUR journey—whether you’re a caregiver for a cancer patient or an aging parent or a special-needs child.

Carol BoveeCarol Bovee

Carol Bovee’s secret dread even before she had children had been, “What if I can’t handle something happening to my child?”

In the terrifying hours between taking her four-year-old son to the doctor’s to investigate his bruises and arriving at a Children’s hospital in another city, Carol determined she was going to fight hard, but most importantly, she was going to show God’s love and grace, cling to His promises that everything would be okay (whether her son lived or died) and hold the family together no matter what.

Within the first few weeks of her son’s Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia diagnosis, she heard phrases like, “You are handling this so well!”  “Your faith in God is incredible.” And Carol gradually came to realize that indeed, God can get us through more than we can imagine.

And carry her it did. Right up until the time a year and a half later that Andrew began to get his hair back. People pronounced him better, but Carol and her husband knew there was a year and a half of chemotherapy left, and they were already beginning to see symptoms of chemotherapy damage in a growing boy.

Carol ignored the sleeplessness, the anxiety, the feelings of being overwhelmed, the weight gain – everything. She concentrated on keeping close to God, continuing her job of teaching, uniting her family and caring for the health of her boy.

While attending a conference on “Educating the Child with Cancer,” Carol tiredly looked over a list of symptoms of PTSD in cancer patients; then blinked awake when she noted that she had 90% of the symptoms. What?  No. A strong woman of faith believes that God’s will triumphs, that if we follow His plan we’ll be okay, that He won’t give us more than we can handle!

But there it was; more than Carol could handle. What followed were months of what she finally realized was depression and anxiety, symptoms that still like to cling to the corners of her life.  Carol’s journey through cancer caregiving (and out the other side) has given her an intense appreciation for letting God get you through and for sharing with other travelers; both make the going easier.  Our journeys are not all alike; but the similarities remind us we’re human, it’s okay to look for help, and it is good to laugh and cry with someone else!

If you’re looking for comfort for your caregiving journey, check out 31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers.

We have stories and advice in our Cancer Caregiving 101 posts.

For healthy(er) recipes (many of them GF, all of them vegetarian) from breakfast foods to desserts with everything in-between, click on our Healthy(er) Recipes tab.

We often link up our inspirational posts with with Kate Motaung, Holley Gerth, Holly Barret Kirsten Oliphant, and Jennifer Dukes Lee 

If you have a family member or a friend who struggles with a mental illness, you might want to check out this series.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Christina McGill

    Amazing! You are both such incredible women. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your journey with the world. Extra jewels in your crown for sure!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Aw, how sweet of you! Thank you for your encouragement! It feels rather vulnerable to share our journey, but we know we aren’t the only ones out there that struggle with caregiving and recovering from caregiving.

    • Thanks, Christina. As a caregiver of caregivers, you’ve walked pieces of this journey with more than one. Thanks for the support and encouragement!

  • Glad to be connected with you!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Welcome,Chad! Thanks for dropping by :).

  • Becky A. Johnson (Pellecer)

    You two are awesome! I had no idea of the trials and tribulations you both had been through! I will need to get the book and read it! My husband and I just recently went through a scare when he was diagnosed with a spot of malignant Melanoma. Luckily for us it was successfully removed and he is currently cancer free. While scary, it doesn’t hold a candle to what the two of you have been through. My thoughts and prayers are with you two amazingly strong friends and your families!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you for your kind words, Becky! We’re so glad that your husband is cancer-free. The power of prayer never ceases to amaze us. Pedro and Andrew have been cancer-free for some time now, but we hope that our stories and experiences as caregivers will somehow help other caregivers through their journeys!

  • Hello! I just found your page and think it is WONDERFUL!

    I am the creator of a FB page/group named Cure the Blue Ribbon of Colon Cancer. I was wanting to know if I have permission to “share” a post of yours?

    Also I would love to invite you to stop by and visit, even thought neither of you have had to deal with colorectal cancer .. a cancer diagnosis is the same to anyone/family.

    Again, I have really enjoyed reading your posts and THANKS for being out there!

    Linda

    • Thank you for your kind words, and I’m glad we connected! You’re absolutely right–cancer is cancer and it takes it toll on more than the one with the diagnosis! I stopped by your FB page and it looks wonderful :).

  • Donna

    It is 3AM and I am up with a painful tooth from tooth surgery and just happened upon this blog. My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 12 years ago, just 8 months after 3 failed surgeries and losing my hearing and just 18 months before my son had a sudden psychotic break and was diagnosed with biopolar. During this time we lost my father and my husband’s mother. I did well. I worked full time, I helped my son get through his college degree and went through a major brain surgery called DBS for my husband’s disease. 2 months after his successful, very successful surgery, my son becoming very stable, and my receiving a surgical implant that allowed me to hear again, I crashed. I could not understand why, now that everything was looking up for all of us, would I nearly collapse with anxiety, depression, and yes, PTSD (I learned through the counseling I sought out). With the help of medications and a counselor I struggled through the next few years, always with the feeling that at any moment another shoe could drop. Your blog has been very helpful to me in the wee hours of this morning. I am happy to say that life is pretty good these days and I am a stronger person, but people have no idea of the toll taken on the caregiver.

    • Oh, Donna! I’m so sorry you’ve had so many things going on in your life–but I’m glad you sought counseling–something I probably should have done. It’s amazing how much we can endure, and how we don’t realize that we need to treat ourselves kindly through those times (and especially afterwards). I’m glad we were able to help you and I hope your tooth feels better soon!

  • I want to fill this comment window with just one word repeated over and over. AMEN.

    PTSD is grossly overlooked. I cared for my husband in 2003-4 after he fell from a big rig and broke his neck. Finally 7 months later, the halo was off and he was learning to live with limited neck movement (THE ONLY damage.) But, then, bam, I became debilitated with sciatica pain for two years – my chiro and nutritionist was so very wise because she knew my husband’s accident and the stressors of it settled themselves in my arse!!!! 11 years later there are still twinges of the pain. Wonderful website. Write on Ladies.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…day 13 of hopeMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Susan–it’s comforting to know that we are not alone in our ‘recovering caregiver’ journeys :). It’s crazy how much we can endure (or at least think we can). That’s what we want other caregivers to know: Take care of yourself–even if it’s just in little ways, starting seeing a therapist, even if you don’t think you need one (I soooo wish I would have done this), know what PTSD and depression look like and have an accountability partner to let you know when you’re stretched too thin! I’m glad your husband recovered, and even more glad that you’re doing better and are recovering as well!

  • Anita and Carol, thanks so much for sharing your stories so eloquently and honestly here. I especially wanted to check your about page, Anita. 🙂 And I’m so glad I did. I’m sure God uses your words and your witness to encourage many facing the same circumstances you’ve faced. He comforts us so that we can be a comfort. And that’s what He’s done with both of you, it sounds like.
    Betsy recently posted…Building Community: Let’s Get to Know Each OtherMy Profile

    • Thank you for your kind words, Betsy :). I’ve been getting so many great ideas for all the 31 day participants–I keep reworking little pieces of the blog hoping to make it better each time :).

  • Holly Fields

    Beautiful website, Anita. I think what you are doing is wonderful. Caregivers need all the love and support they can get!

    I am so glad that Pedro is well now. I hope your girls are doing well, too. I remember how bright Sarah was in kindergarten and what a great artist she was!

    I had to quit teaching soon after Sarah was in my class, because my son had so many health problems in addition to his autism. His health problems have worsened and now he needs almost constant care, and I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which makes caring for him so very difficult. We’re still looking for more support for our family as we try to survive, but it is hard to get the help we need. People seem to rally around you at first in a crisis, but when the crisis never ends and things only get worse and never better, friends start dropping off and relatives get tired of helping. It’s frustrating and depressing.

    I really appreciate what you are doing to give advice and comfort to people in similar circumstances. May God bless you and your family.

    • Wow, Holly! I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems and the problems your son has. I had no idea (I was pretty clueless back in the day). I’ll be praying for you and your situation. Caregiving really takes a toll on a person’s health–and it’s hard for people who haven’t been there to understand. Do you guys still live in the same area? I’ll be lifting you up in prayer, Holly.

  • Holly Fields

    Yes, we still live in Reno, but sadly we haven’t been to church for about 5 years. It’s just too difficult.

    Thank you for the prayers!

  • I love your heart to encourage. I am glad I found your site. FYI – I am starting a new link up. Thought you may have interest. It will be exciting – we will encourage and be encouraged – http://purposefulfaith.com/cheerleading-link-up/

  • I love your blog pages, but when I went to the home page, I couldn’t figure out how to get to your blog. What tab is it under?
    Ruthanne recently posted…10 Network Marketing Phrases to Make Prospects Flee, Part 2My Profile

  • I am so glad I found this blog. I was the caregiver for my mother for a year before she passed. I know that reading this blog will be an awesome resource.

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  • I’m thankful that I found your page today! I have battled both anxiety and depression in the past. Many times during that time I asked God to take away it. Only now looking back, can I be thankful for the time because I don’t think I could have gotten the level of faith that I have now.
    I am excited to look over all the resources here!

    Keep up the good work!
    Julie

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