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Local News

Brain aneurysm survivor organizing walk to raise awareness, research funds

Glenbard West grad organizing second annual Chicago Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk

Former Glen Ellyn resident and 1984 Glenbard West graduate Janet Sutherland-Madden wrote a children's book, "Andrew J: The Corgi Who Rescued Me." The book is about how her Corgi, Andrew J, helped Sutherland-Madden during her recovery from a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2004.
Former Glen Ellyn resident and 1984 Glenbard West graduate Janet Sutherland-Madden wrote a children's book, "Andrew J: The Corgi Who Rescued Me." The book is about how her Corgi, Andrew J, helped Sutherland-Madden during her recovery from a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2004.

An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or one in 50 people.

After suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2004, Glen Ellyn native Janet Sutherland-Madden has dedicated her efforts to raising money for research and to build awareness of the warning signs of brain aneurysms.

Sutherland-Madden, a 1984 Glenbard West High School graduate who currently lives in Oakbrook Terrace, is organizing the second annual Chicago Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk, which will take place Sept. 30 at Fullersburg Woods, 3609 Spring Road, Oak Brook.

Co-sponsored by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, the 2.2-mile walk will raise funds to support brain aneurysm awareness, education and research. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. WLS-AM radio newswoman and brain aneurysm survivor Jennifer Keiper will kick off the walk.

The registration fee is $30. Anyone who is unable to attend but would like to support the event may register as a virtual participant for $50. More information is available by going to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation's website at www.bafound.org.

Last year's walk raised close to $20,000, exceeding Sutherland-Madden's expectations.

"We had I want to say 800 people," she said. "It was just overwhelming. We had people coming from all over the state for this walk, and we expect the same this year."

September is Brain Aneurysm Month. A brain aneurysm is a weak, bulging area in the brain’s artery that can rupture, causing bleeding that may result in permanent disabilities or death. In 2009, she crafted a bill calling for the permanent creation of Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month in Illinois for the month of September, a measure that was successfully passed.

Sutherland-Madden started the Chicago Chapter of the Brain Aneurysm Foundation in September 2007 following her recovery. The foundation's mission is to promote early detection of brain aneurysms by providing knowledge and raising awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors.

She said her health continues to improves following her ruptured brain aneurysm.

"I'm doing a lot better," she said. "I'm full of energy, and determined to move forward with this. I'm looking for more initiatives and to get more people involved."

It's been a busy year for Sutherland-Madden. She got married in June at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, and her husband, Kevin, is a nurse whose family has also been impacted by brain aneurysms.

"We had a lot of brain aneurysm survivors at the wedding, and we had a brain aneurysm survivor oversee the ceremony," Sutherland-Madden said. "She was a minister, and she became a close friends of ours. … It was a really kind of neat event because everyone knew what I went through, and it was exciting to see us together. He has been by my side the entire time."

She also wrote a book, "Andrew J: The Corgi Who Rescued Me," to educate children about compassion and helping others. She rescued the dog after her recovery, and he took on the role as a therapy dog for Madden.

The book, which is available on Amazon and her website, www.janetesutherland.com, carries a Library of Congress seal. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes toward CorgiAid Inc. and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Unfortunately, Andrew J died in December 2015. He was 14 years old. Since then, Sutherland-Madden has rescued and adopted another corgi, Rhett.

She might write a sequel to the book.

"I think I might have to write a sequel, because everybody loves him too," Sutherland-Madden said.

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