about Janet Komanchuk

I am living proof that miracles do happen and prayers are answered!

My journey to illness began, not with one step, but a series of circumstances and choices, actions and reactions that started in my childhood. I never realized my entire life led up to the illness that eventually consumed me.

I was born in Canada, an only child, to parents who provided no nurturing. My father, also an only child, was continuously moody and sullen. He never discussed what troubled him; instead he retreated into himself and was silent, refusing to speak to either my mother or me for days. When he was in one of his silent sulks, we’d tiptoe around the house, communicating in whispers. As a child, I believed I had done something to cause his withdrawal.

Day by day, my father’s mood swings seemed to become worse. I tried desperately to become a part of my father’s world; but no matter how hard I tried, I could not please him. It was then I escaped the hurtful criticism and destructive silence, by retreating into books – where I immersed myself in the adventures of my literary heroes and heroines. In books, I lived a fantasy life where I was loved.

My real-life hero was my grandfather. Unlike my father, Granddad readily showed his love for me. Whenever we visited, he greeted me with a huge loving smile and twinkling eyes. Together we would laugh and giggle, as he hugged and tickled me and lifted me onto his lap. I delighted in the all-too-brief moments I shared with him. Sadly, my time with him was short; for one day he was admitted to the hospital and never returned. I did not see him again until his funeral. There I was permitted to say goodbye to my cherished friend.

And of course the women of the family, my mother and Dad’s mother, sparred continually – using me as their go between. With me, Mom shared conspiratorial confidences: tales of Grandmother’s dislike of her. While Grandmother shared her own hurtful snippets of information, telling me my mother didn’t want me. She wanted a boy instead. I was convinced no one wanted me. And on top of all this, each of them questioned me to learn what the other one was doing. Mom forced me to phone Grandmother daily, to make certain she was okay; but nothing and no one could please Grandmother.

My mother’s mom, on the other hand, was a sweet little woman who reminded me of my Granddad. She too was kind and loving. Shortly after I started school, Grandma developed breast cancer. After her surgery, she came to live with us. I was delighted! Every day I’d race into her room to hug and kiss her good morning. Then one day, I could no longer go in to see her; for she was having a bad day, many to be exact.

The doctor came with his black bag. I had to whisper, lest I disturb her. What few friends I had were not allowed in the house. Then  all too soon, the hearse came and took Grandma away. Once again, I said goodbye at the funeral. I was broken hearted. Within a few years, I had lost the two dearest people in my life. Finally, three years after Grandma’s passing, my dad’s mother suffered a sudden fatal heart attack in her yard. This was the grandmother who was so hurtful.

Once more, I was left alone with my fears. My only escape was the safety and acceptance of the imaginary characters in the books I read. They became the family I longed for.

Continue reading Janet Komanchuk’s story. Click on the segment below you wish to read.

As I began my sixteenth year, my inner hopes and dreams were bright. However, fear lingered. The next closest person in my life, my father, was still experiencing exhaustion and shortness of breath from a heart attack he suffered four years earlier. He had gained weight and often held his chest. But as much as I prayed for him, my fears were realized when I lost the father to whom I so eagerly yearned to be close. Dad left my life without really every being in it. I could not recall a single conversation with him – only disapproval and indifference. Still, I missed him.

I was left, again, to deal with a mother who showed me no emotion and had no means of soothing my pains–as a daughter would wish from her mother. I returned to the characters from my books. They became my reality.

Death seemed to reign in my life. As if my father, grandfather and both grandmothers were not enough; the year I lost my father, I also lost my loving dog. With her, I shared my deepest secrets. Her fur soaked with my tears; she’d listen, nuzzle and love me.

I didn’t think my 10th-grade year could get any worse; but I was wrong. I faced anonymity in a large new school, where I had few friends. No wonder I excelled in English; the subject that offered me new and exciting characters with which to identify and escape. On the other hand, I failed both Math and Latin, and had to repeat them over the summer.

The following year I continued to struggle, especially with Math and Chemistry, which I also had to repeat. In the midst of grade 12, still failing Math and Chemistry (certain I could never pass), I applied for a job as a telephone operator. When I was called for an interview, my mother insisted I write my grade-twelve exams. Miracle of miracles! I passed—just barely—but I passed.

Then Mom insisted I go on to college. She thought I should be a teacher, because she always wanted to be a teacher. I loved art; but for her, that was frivolous. She thought it a hobby, not a career. Once again, I gave in rather than follow my heart and pursue my own path. Besides, I rationalized I could teach with just two years of university and at last be free.

Committed to education as a means to my independence, I enrolled at my local community college. There I saved on tuition costs, and I could live at home and avoid paying rent. Since my mother earned minimum wage working as a housekeeper at the local hospital to support us, I did not want to unduly add to her financial burdens.

In college, I was in many of the same Education classes as Judy; a friend from high school. We commiserated over assignments and socialized. I enjoyed the times we spent together, laughing and sharing, so different from the deafening quiet I was used to.

At the end of our first year, we were both accepted to the university closest to home. We decided to be roommates, and live in her aunt and uncle’s basement. That summer, to help pay for university, Judy worked in her parent’s store; while I sorted bottles on an assembly line at a nearby factory. So I could get to and from work; my mother bought me my first car, a second-hand Envoy Epic–the best present ever. I loved it!

The shift work killed me. All I did was work, sleep and eat, then back to work again. I was full of cuts from the sharp glass seams on the bottles. My back ached, as did my shoulders and feet. I wondered how the staff, all much older than me, survived the grueling job in the stifling heat from the furnaces that spit out molten glass, non-stop. They even had time to laugh at me and my efforts to sort and pack the bottles before they toppled off the conveyor belt into the trough, with an ominous thud. Along with my body, my ego also took a beating as they yelled and cursed, ordering me to keep up and not to bleed on the glassware. My job was so much like home, where I also endured criticism and could not achieve acceptance.

Frustrated and exhausted, I planned a brief get away to the mountains with Judy, before university started. This provided an excellent opportunity to quit the job I found so difficult and relax for a few days. Excited, I packed my car and drove along the gravel country road to pick up my friend. My mind was full of plans and worries for the upcoming termI was also concerned about my mother dating a fellow employee from her job. I didn’t care for him. But I doubt I would have liked anyone who threatened to take my deceased father’s place in her life. I was jealous of their relationship. With him and his family, she was a different person. When they were around, the house resounded with laughter and fun. Why didn’t we have that kind of relationship? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t she love me too? I always longed for her affections. Again, I felt my distant past creeping up on me.

All of these thoughts, and the emotions they conjured up, distracted and kept me from focusing on my driving. Losing control in a curve on a gravel road, I was involved in a car accident, which did not allow me to arrive at Judy’s house. The following day, I woke up in the hospital with no recollection of how I got there. Apparently, an oil crew found me in a ditch, where I had been thrown after colliding with a coyote and rolling my car. My beloved car was totaled and I had a fractured coccyx.

I spent the next month in the hospital, sleeping on fracture boards, transporting myself to and from physiotherapy by wheelchair—so much for my mini holiday. Now I agonized over missed classes and assignments. How would I ever catch up?

My friend Judy came to my rescue. On the weekend she visited, bringing with her the course outline and books for my American Literature class. In the weeks that followed, I read voraciously; hiding again in the fanciful reality of books, while trying to keep up in at least one of my courses.

Finally, I was discharged from the hospital! I started university a month late, and had to drop some classes and work like mad to catch up in others. Walking, standing and sitting were still painful. But thankfully, Judy drove us to and from school, and even helped me carry my books.

Before the semester’s end, I received another blow and was crushed. Judy announced she was quitting school because she was pregnant, getting married and moving back to her hometown to be closer to her father, who was battling asthma. I was excited for her, but wondered how I would manage without her. I relied on her support and camaraderie, and dreaded being on my own again.

Desperate to find a new place to live, I shared my concerns with another student, who arranged to have me board with her. My mom and Iver, the coworker she had married, came to help me pack and move. In spite of the boisterous family with three children, two cats and another border, I kept to myself, buried in my books. Mom and Iver had found me another second-hand car and I drove home on some weekends to visit with them, and whatever school friends might be in town.

At the end of my second year, certain I would have a better chance of being hired as a teacher with another year of university, I enrolled for a third. Still trying to make up for lost time, because of my fractured tailbone, while also avoiding home, my mother and Iver; I decided to attend summer school. The family I was boarding with had their own plans for the summer, so I moved.

Once again, I was in the basement, this time with Rose, another education student who was looking for a roommate. Rose introduced me to a goodhearted friend of hers, a senior who she affectionately called Grandma. When we met, Grandma smiled broadly and gave me a welcoming hug that I had not experienced since my own beloved Granddad and Grandma passed. It was love at first sight! She became my adopted grandparent, who taught me how to make tarts, roast a turkey and all of those domestic chores I had never been motivated to learn. Her ready laugh and enthusiasm for life drew me to her. It was fun just being with her. When she was not with her own family, Grandma celebrated holidays with Rose and me.

I delighted in taking her shopping for groceries; a task I avoided with my mother. With Mom, it was boring and tedious. However, Grandma and I enjoyed each other’s company. Whenever I was tired, looking for support and encouragement, I took a break from my studies and visited with her. Then it was back to work; for I was determined to complete the year, find a teaching position and earn a salary.

At last, I completed my third year. Grandma and I celebrated with one of her special home-cooked meals. We both had tears in our eyes, as I climbed into my packed car and headed for home. I would miss my dear friend, who took me under her wing and treated me like her own granddaughter. 

There, eager to put what I had learned into practice with students of my own, I applied for teaching positions throughout the province. I was surprised to be hired at a school close to home. Forever frugal, I decided to board with my mother and stepfather, so I could save money to complete my Bachelor of Education degree. Besides, night classes and summer school would keep me busy and away from home for much of the time.

My first class was an enthusiastic group of 32 fourth graders. For the most part, I enjoyed my students, and their enthusiasm for life and learning. Of course, there were always those students who slipped through the cracks; those who were unwilling or unable to progress. No matter what I tried, I could not reach them all.

I managed to survive my first year and was hired for a second, then a third. Finally, I received my bachelor’s degree. In spite of all the education courses I had taken, my frustrations with my teaching continued to grow. I regarded my pupils’ failures as my own, and I was disappointed and angry with them and myself. Each situation I could not control, brought on headaches and stiffness in my neck and shoulders; no doubt, caused by tension.

Then, in 1973, at the end of my third year of teaching, I was tired and sore with pains that would not disappear. I did not have the heart to spend another summer vacation taking continuing-education classes. Ready for a change, I longed to travel. I felt helping someone in another country would broaden my horizons, and maybe then I could return to my teaching with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. So I joined 28 other Canadians who also volunteered to work on a variety of construction sites, alongside Jamaican counterparts. At the time, I was unaware this decision would bring my future husband into my life.

Prior to our departure, as part of the program, we researched and shared information with fellow participants in our immediate area. That was when I met  John Komanchuk; a fellow teacher and project volunteer from my community. Together, we gathered with another group member and shared our research information about Jamaica: its geography, politics and people.

Armed with what little information our studies had unearthed and our do-gooder fervor, we flew to Jamaica. When we arrived in Kingston, teams were assigned and dispersed. John and his group set off to their work site, to build a school; while my team traveled to the north shore, to construct a chicken pen for the animal husbandry program.

From our carefree Jamaican co-workers, we learned about having fun mixing cement and hauling it downhill bucket brigade style. They also showed us how to measure out a floor plan in the earth using only a twelve-inch ruler. More important, they taught us patience. In Jamaica things happened on Jamaica time–if something did not take place today you simply waited for tomorrow.

Half way through our stay, the entire group gathered in Kingston to share stories of our successes and challenges. It was wonderful to get together with John and other team members I had not seen for several weeks. Then it was back to our work sites. But all too soon, it was time to leave our Jamaican friends and return to Canada. The entire group met again, for debriefing and planning the following year’s project.

Ever the teacher, John enjoyed sharing his experience and expertise. I was flattered by his attention, and appreciated his company and witty sense of humor. Even though he was twenty years older than me, he too was an only child. We also shared a common interest in travel, theater, art and teaching.

In John, I found the acceptance and understanding I did not find in my strict upbringing from my parents, who believed children should be seen and not heard. He was a respected member of the community; a position I admired. Back home, John and I returned to our own lives. However, we continued to see each other at art exhibits and theatrical performances. We even took the same pottery class.

Even though I was happier having met John, I felt stuck and restless, in need of a change in both my teaching and personal life. After seeing how happy the Jamaicans were, with so little, how could I be so dissatisfied when I had so much? So many of my goals and aspirations revolved around money and possessions. My petty concerns seemed frivolous. In search of a fresh start, once again, I applied for a variety of teaching jobs throughout the province.

Unexpectedly, I received an answer to one of my applications in December. The principal of Banff Elementary School phoned and asked me to come interview for a grade-five position that would be available in the New Year. I loved this picturesque mountain community in the heart of the Rockies. Excited for the chance to teach there, I set off on the five-hour drive to Banff. My mother came along to keep me company. The snow-capped mountains were beautiful; a scene right out of National Geographic. I was nervous, but the principal was friendly and the interview went well. Still, I was afraid to get my hopes up.

Before driving home, Mom and I ate at a local restaurant and watched the elk foraging for food in the park across the street. Excited, I told her about my interview and hopes of being hired. On the way home, we reminisced about a family holiday in Banff when I was a child. By the time we arrived, we were both tired. After relaxing over the weekend, I returned to my classroom on Monday.

Again I was surprised by a phone call; this time from the superintendent who offered me the job. I was thrilled! This was a dream come true. Looking forward to the opportunity for a new adventure, I asked my school board to release me from my contract. Thankfully they did.

Eager to find a place to live for the upcoming school term, I returned to Banff the following weekend, only to discover there were no apartment vacancies in the town site. Finally, just outside of the national park gates, I found a motel that rented by the month. I paid a deposit to secure my unit and returned home. There, I worked hard in my classroom, organizing my marks and lesson plans, in order to be ready for my replacement. On the last day before Christmas holidays, I had a party for my students and told them about my new teaching job. I gave them my new address, and encouraged them to write and tell me about their holidays and how they were doing. I promised to answer their letters. I would miss my students, many of whom I had become close to. I would also miss the staff I had grown to know so well over the past three years. As I prepared for my new teaching assignment, I told myself I was destined for a new start, leaving all of my cares and concerns behind me.

In Banff, I immersed myself in my teaching. Here the scenery was better, but the same frustrations followed me. When I headed home at the end of a tiring day of teaching, I was thrilled to open my post-office box and discover letters from so many of my former students. I answered these on post cards, depicting my new surroundings and the wild life that lived there. I wrote to my former pupils about the fun I was having, working with children from different classes on our school production of Tom Sawyer.

A t last, a new apartment complex was completed. I was delighted to be one of the first tenants, and relieved to be close enough I could cross-country ski to school. The rest of the staff and students skied to school when the roads were snowed in as well.

On an occasional weekend, John would come to visit. For part of the summer holiday, we traveled together. Even though he was separated from his wife, he still did not want to be seen dating me. Did I embarrass him? Was he ashamed to be seen with me? Or was he fearful of losing his job, teaching for the Catholic School board, as he claimed? Whatever the reason, it hurt me deeply; however, I did not have the self-confidence to challenge him or walk away.

At the end of our travels, I returned to Banff, where for the next two years I taught a grade-four class. The other fourth-grade teacher and I planned lessons together, and team-taught some of our subjects. Having someone to discuss the students and lessons with, made my job easier and more fun. We even combined our efforts and took our classes on several overnight camping adventures.

I enjoyed the opportunity to spearhead out-of-school projects with my students; a wonderful way to give practical application to our classroom lessons. However, the vice principal in charge of outdoor education, was returning from a sabbatical to resume his outdoor programs. I felt certain I would not be permitted to go on the class excursions that I found so exhilarating. I was also concerned for my position, as I was the last one hired. So, once again, I sent out applications searching for another teaching position.

Imagine my surprise when the only job I was offered was back home, in the school I  had first taught. I had mixed emotions about returning home. I would miss my Banff colleagues, the scenery and excitement; but I would be close to John and my mother. This might be my chance to resolve my issues with both of them. Always drawn to drama and upheaval, in real life as well as fiction, I accepted the position.

This time, finding an apartment was easy, as was reverting to my childhood role of playing my mother’s confidante. Both she and my stepfather had retired. Time and togetherness weighed heavy on both of them, and Iver decided to leave my mother to live with his oldest daughter and her family. Both of them were happier apart, than together. Mom and I continued to get together for meals and shopping on weekends. I never told her I had always felt unwanted and unloved. Oh how I still yearned for her love.

I also wanted John’s love; but even though he was separated, he continued to attend social functions with his wife. Again, I was at loose ends, not knowing where I stood in our secret relationship—another issue I did not address. Instead, I hid who I really was; hoarding my true thoughts and feelings, just as I hoarded my money and possessions.

I turned to art for comfort, taking photography, pottery and painting classes. These skills I shared with my students. Through art, I could reach some of them, for there was no homework nor right nor wrong answers—only expressing themselves. I even attended a puppet-making workshop John offered. Ever the dramatist, he had developed a program for his students in which he had them perform plays they had written for their Muppet-like characters. This gave me another opportunity to see John. We continued to see each other, but always in secret.

At last, John’s divorce was finalized! On the rebound from his marriage, he was looking for someone to accompany him to social events; someone who appreciated him—the perfect wife. At fifty-six, he took an early retirement from teaching to marry me, without fear of jeopardizing his job and to pursue a career in public service. I was tired of being alone. Looking for love, and a nurturing partner and mentor, I was eager to share my life with John. So in the summer of 1983, we were married in a small outdoor wedding, with a few friends and relativesAfter a brief honeymoon, I returned to teaching; while John began writing a book about the history of the local separate school district, where he had taught for so many years and now served as a board member.

Because he loved to cook and eat, John took time from his writing to prepare most of the meals. After a stressful day at school, I came home to a hearty home-cooked dinner. When our meal was over, John retired to the couch to read and watch television; while I dealt with the dishes and other household chores, as well as the dilemmas of my day, by myself. The camaraderie and sharing I longed for never happened.

At times like these, once again, I felt so totally alone. I knew John was dangerously over weight, but I didn’t know how to help. His size was a touchy subject, and my concern for his weight and elevated blood pressure, was dismissed with his assurance that his doctor had seen him through a stroke long before I had met him. He didn’t appreciate my nagging. At school, I struggled with demanding parents, reluctant learners and tenuous friendships with fellow teachers. I longed for a dear friend to share my cares and concerns about my job and my personal life. However, unwilling to admit my own failings as a teacher and wife, I kept my worries to myself.

With all of this bottled up inside, it was then I experienced pain in my neck and back. No doubt it was caused by stress; something I thought a good night’s sleep would fix. As the weeks passed, the aches intensified, and spread into my wrists and elbows, giving me something else to fret about. The more I worried, the more I hurt. I decided to go to my doctor to find out what was wrong. He tested for carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis, and then referred me to a rheumatologist. After poking and prodding, and testing for numbness in my extremities, he referred me to a neurosurgeon. His diagnosis was cervical disc degeneration. Ultimately, he fused C5 and C6.

When I awoke from surgery, John was there pampering and supporting me. The pains I thought were stress related, were gone. I recovered quickly from surgery and returned to teaching—the only real job I had ever known. Even though I struggled to encourage and control my students, at least I was familiar with those challenges. On the other hand, I had only been married for two and a half years, and it was certainly not what I had expected. In many ways, John and I continued to lead our own separate lives. Neither of us was good at sharing our feelings. All too often, I felt like an ornament sitting on a shelf, waiting to be taken down to make an appearance at whatever social occasion called for a spouse. Where was the intimacy I had dreamed of?

Then in December of 1986, John suffered a heart attack and passed a few days later. At the time of his death, my world fell apart. I was back wallowing in my own self-pity, just as I had in the past. In the months to come, the pains resumed with a vengeance; the same pains I experienced prior to the spinal fusion—only worse. There was more numbness and tingling that grew and spread to my legs, knees and stomach. In order to find peace, to take my mind off my pain, I returned to teaching. I started facing the added challenges of a new grade at a new school with a new staff.

Deeply mired in my own pity party, I failed to see my mother’s decline. Unable to care for herself, she moved in with me. Together we traveled from one doctor appointment to another.

The medications they prescribed for dizziness and nausea did not work any better than the prisms they recommended for the lenses of her glasses. Finally, she received a referral to the Mayo Clinic. Armed with our arsenal of reports, x-rays, MRIs and CT scans, we flew to Rochester, MN. There, after extensive testing, Mom’s medical team determined that one of the lobes of her brain was degenerating. Her condition was irreversible and would continue to progress. They suggested that Gravol injections might alleviate some of the nausea, but not all. Our hopes for a cure dashed; we flew home.

Mom’s condition deteriorated rapidly. Soon she required full-time care that only a nursing home could provide. Bedridden, totally incapable of even feeding herself, she became a prisoner within her own body.

For years I raced from school, and often I would stop at a fast-food drive through for a quick meal, which I consumed on my way to the nursing home. I fed Mom her dinner, plus special treats I remembered her liking from the past. I combed her hair, washed her, brushed her dentures and changed her diapers; moving her carefully, so as to keep her dizziness and vomiting to a minimum.

All the while I chattered about my day, exaggerating my accomplishments with students that were excelling, and minimizing my annoyance with students who were not doing homework and with myself  for failing to motivate them with my lessons. Sometimes, I was more successful hiding my exhaustion, pains and frustration than others. With a kiss on her forehead, I told her I loved her, positioned her earphones and turned on her tape player; so she could listen to music or an audio book.

Then I headed home to feed, walk and play with my beloved dogs—the joy in my life. Back to the nursing home, we’d dash a game for the dogs; a never-ending responsibility for me. I’d feed Mom her snack and read to her. Visiting hours over, another good night kiss, a final I love you, and the dogs and I’d return home. Usually there were books to mark, lessons to plan and then to bed; only to be awakened by the unrelenting pain and a cold sweat that even my hot tub did not erase. This was our routine, except for weekends when I fed Mom all her meals. If I was late, her food sat on her tray getting colder and more unappetizing by the minute. Because there was not enough staff to assist all of those who required help, we hired someone to feed Mom when I couldn’t be there.

About once a month, Mom’s youngest brother, my Uncle Bill, would visit. He immediately took over feeding Mom, and rubbed lotion on her hands and feet. He visited with her about their childhood, his family and the metaphysical book he was reading at the moment. His care was gentle. His love and compassion for her and me were genuine.

Nearly blind, barely able to move, Mom continued to get sicker. Finally she passed. My mother was free and so was I. I had spent so much time caring for her, trying to prove to her and myself, and to everyone else, what a good daughter I was—trying to earn her love. What will I  do now, to fill all of those empty hours?

After Mom’s funeral, I returned to my teaching routine. The aches grew and spread throughout my body. No longer could I shoulder check when driving; I even struggled getting in and out of my car. Parking was a nightmare. My entire body throbbed when I marked books, taught my class, carried groceries or walked my dogs. Simply putting one foot in front of the other was excruciating.

I was exhausted. Every part of my body screamed. It even hurt to breathe. My life careened out of control. I saw countless doctors. What was happening to me? Was it all in my head, as some suggested, a woman thing, hormones? My agony and frustration intensified, so my doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, rheumatologist and psychologist. More doctors and testing followed—even a sleep lab. They ruled out another degenerating disc, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and lupus. The MRI showed nothing.

Finally, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. What a relief! At last I had a diagnosis; however, still no real help. All I got were drugs and more drugs, and the ugly mind-numbing side effects they inflicted. Even with morphine patches, Codeine Contin and Imodium; teaching became impossible. A leave of absence morphed into long-term disability, then an early retirement. More desperate than ever, I continued to search out other alternative treatments.

The constant pain, even made getting out of bed in the morning a challenge. I could no longer look after my home, dogs or myself. In a daze, I shuffled from my sauna to my bed, then to my hot tub. I had tried everything I could think of, both holistic and medical: special diets and exercise, physiotherapy and massage, Reike and healing touch, hypnosis and acupuncture. Not to mention a plethora of prescriptions for pain, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, chronic fatigue and depression. Nothing helped! I was in total fear; scared to death.

At the age of fifty-two, I was preparing to go to a nursing home, to spend what little time I had left in this world in misery. Defeated, I prayed for an end to my suffering. I even prayed for my own death. But from the depths of my despair, the miracle in my life was about to begin.

Unexpectedly, my Uncle Bill phoned. A freethinker and an avid reader, he was forever giving me books about spirituality and healing; which went beyond the bounds of traditional medicine. During our conversation, he told me about the about the Overlees; the founders of Joy of Healing, an amazing couple who work with spirit to restore health. Fellow members of the Edgar Cayce Group he had started, who also understood metaphysics, and appreciated the Overlees and their special work, had introduced them to my aunt and uncle.

My Uncle Bill explained that Andrew is a gifted medium and healer, and Tamara, his wife, is a dedicated spiritual counselor whose family in spirit writes through her. He described how they had helped him and my Aunt Phyllis, their daughter and granddaughter, as well as the friends who introduced them. Uncle Bill assured me if anyone could help me, they could. He even offered to arrange to have them come to his home and work on me there, if I were willing.

I looked up the Joy of Healing website. I was intrigued with this couple and their special work with spirit, which my uncle had such faith in. Eager to learn more, I phoned Tamara. She shared more about their work with their spirit family of healers, philosophers and teachers who had passed. Their family in spirit works through them to help with physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. This was different from the psychics I had read about and watched on television. This was far more than receiving messages from a loved one who had passed and was communicating to prove the eternalness of the soul. My doctors in the physical plane had certainly not been able to help. Why not give ethereal healers a chance? Joy of Healing could be the answer to my prayers.

Physically unable to drive the distance to my uncle’s home, I booked a flight. At last the day arrived. I hurt so terribly; I could barely climb the steps to board the plane. Finally I landed. Uncle Bill was there to meet me. Together, my aunt and uncle and I enjoyed our dinner. We caught up on family news and discussed the Overlees, who were expected the following day. I awoke exhausted, after another restless night of unrelenting pain.

Just as planned, Andrew and Tamara arrived that afternoon. As they walked in the door, I felt their vibration and sensed my time for healing had come. They introduced themselves and greeted me with a calm and tranquil demeanor. As I looked into their eyes, I felt such peace and hope. Many times, I had come so close to giving up my search for healing; but now, for the first time in a long time, I believed I would finally discover the real cause of my disease and the help I so desired.

We visited throughout the evening. I learned about Andrew’s work with spirit that began as a young child. His father, Vernon, who had worked with spirit for most of his life, helped Andrew to fulfill his destiny as an instrument for spiritual healing. I could barely sleep that night. Not only because of the pains, but because I was so excited knowing when morning came, my self-proclaimed manifestation of my health may at last have the opportunity to heal. I sensed this would be my last chance, not only to restore my health, but to save my very life.

The next morning, I enjoyed breakfast, and a friendly visit with my family and the Overlees. I felt very awake, alert and exhilarated. Tamara invited me into the room where they were holding their sessions and conducting their healing work. Without hesitation I entered, eager to experience my first healing session with spirit. As I lay upon the massage table, I noticed Andrew’s body language was not the same as it was earlier that morning. I sensed vibrations. Sounds from the hallway and outside did not seem the same as they were moments before. They were muffled, distant. The temperature of the room changed and became increasingly warm. I felt tingling and vibrations that began slowly, then traveled from the top of my head to the tips of my heels. In that moment, Andrew’s facial expressions were different. I felt no fear, only hope.

Out of curiosity, I opened my eyes at the same time a gruff voice came from Andrew’s body. Within moments I felt at home. I was amazed by the knowledge of the entity known as Doctor Robert. In a deep firm voice, tinged with a foreign accent, he revealed everything; not only about my physical health, but also about the energy of the medications I was taking. Dr. Robert knew all about the issues in my life that had stifled my growth—things I had never revealed to anyone. Using Andrew’s hands, he moved them inches above my body.  In a timely manner with a common sense approach to my illness, he addressed all of my needs. With great kindness, he explained exactly what he was doing to help me heal.

I slept better that evening. My body was changing. There was still pain, but it was different—less intense. In the days that followed, I experienced multiple doctors, philosophers and teachers from every genre and walk of life. They worked to heal me, addressing my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We talked about life, both physical and ethereal. The wisdom spoken gave me a wonderful feeling of comfort, of being home again.

As my time with the Overlees and their spirit family drew to an end, I felt a miraculous feeling of great relief. The physical issues had taken a definite turn for the better. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and for the first time in many years, I experienced real hope; not just for relief of my symptoms, but for their total remission.

All too soon, it was time for Tamara and Andrew to leave. I would miss these dear friends who cared so deeply for my well-being. Even though my time with the Overlees had come to an end for now, I was certain I would soon see them again. Dr. Gregor, the spirit psychiatrist, had invited me to come see him in three weeks’ time. This would allow me to be stronger and better able to work with him to resolve the issues in my life that were contributing to my illness.

I returned home, eager to implement the diet and exercise programs my new-found friends recommended. Each day I felt stronger. My energy increased, as did my will to live. As my body healed, my needs changed. I phoned my friends, who suggested modifications to my meals  and exercise. As my digestion improved, I added more foods to my diet; which was not really a diet, but healthy eating. With each passing day, the pain decreased.

In three weeks, I drove to see Andrew and Tamara; something that had previously been impossible. Together we worked to identify and resolve the issues in my life that contributed to my illness. I had never shared who I really was: my true thoughts and feelings. These I selfishly hid, locked away deep within, where they festered and made me ill. It was time for me to be honest and reveal who I truly was.

As the months passed, I was always very excited to meet with Tamara and Andrew, and their family in spirit. My pain continued to diminish, until it was totally gone. After all these years, I was completely pain and prescription free–a miracle!  I was amazed by how easily and quickly my body could heal, and by how the spirit family and the Overlees taught me to control my emotions and feelings, and knowing what it takes to be balanced.

In the months to come, I continued to grow stronger, more active and vibrant– mentally, physically and spiritually. All thanks to my dearest friends and their family in spirit, as well as my own efforts that now had direction and focus. Because of this beautiful work, I had my life back–transformed and full.

Eager to share the good news of my life-altering healing experience, I invited Tamara and Andrew to offer private healing and guidance sessions, as well as classes about life and the ethereal world, in my hometown in Canada. Fellow teachers, acquaintances in the medical field, and people from all walks of life attended. My doctor was so impressed with my improved health that he came to see them. After his session, he told Tamara that if they helped all of his patients as much as they had helped me, he would be out of a job.

I will forever be grateful to my dear friends, Andrew and Tamara, for their unique work with spirit that has helped so many—and for literally saving my very life. Because of the healing and counsel of Joy of Healing, and Tamara’s timeless, captivating common-sense book of universal truths, I am now healthy and happy beyond my wildest dreams.

From Joy of Healing, I learned about passion and integrity, and the burning desire to pursue what is near and dear to my heart. My passion is to share the good news of this life-altering work with others, so they too might experience wellness in mind, body and spirit. After all, who wouldn’t want a second chance to fulfill their life’s desires in peace and harmony?

In the present time, I live and breathe the glorious and wonderful resolution of my mind, body and spirit. I thank the doctors, philosophers and teachers, as well as my own soul for my beautiful healing. I offer my further appreciation, my deepest thanks to Tamara and Andrew, who are now my dearest friends.

Thank you dear friends for the miracle in my life, my return to wellness!


Janet Komanchuk is a retired schoolteacher who has experienced the miraculous remission of chronic, debilitating fibromyalgia. To learn more about Andrew and Tamara Overlee, and their beautiful and unique healing which helps to achieve wellness in mind, body and spirit, please visit www.joyofhealing.com.



Komanchuk2014My Story