GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn native Janet Sutherland is thankful for the help her pet corgi provided her after she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2004.
Sutherland, a 1984 Glenbard West High School graduate, is writing a children's book called "Andrew J: The Corgi Who Rescued Me." While in a hospital recovering from her ruptured brain aneurysm, her other corgi died. Sutherland was living in Ohio at the time and currently lives in Oakbrook Terrace.
"It was doubly difficult recovering," Sutherland said. "What I decided to do is rescue another corgi, Andrew J. He was kind of my rescue therapy dog. He would help me up and down stairs and really took care of me. It is kind of interesting how dogs can notice if you are struggling, and they will help you."
Sutherland said when she moved back to Chicago, Andrew J helped her in many ways.
"He would remind me to take my medication," Sutherland said. "I fainted once, and he barked to get paramedics. So it was interesting that he was a rescue dog that was abused, and he rescued me as well."
Unfortunately, Andrew J died in December 2015. He was 14 years old. Since then, Sutherland has rescued and adopted another corgi.
In the book, she briefly talks about her brain aneurysm. However, she didn't want to overwhelm those children who will be reading the book.
"I wrote in a basic way what a brain aneurysm was," Sutherland said.
She hopes to finish the book this summer. A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and to a group that helps pay for medical bills for sick Pembroke corgis.
"I'm just trying to use the money to help others," Sutherland said. "That's kind of how I am."
Following her recovery, she founded the Chicago chapter of the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. 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.
An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or one in 50 people, according to the foundation's website. In forming the Chicago chapter, Sutherland partnered with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.
"There's nothing worse than recovering from a brain aneurysm and not understanding what made you sick," Sutherland said. "A brain aneurysm ruptures approximately every 18 minutes."
Glen Ellyn native Barry Holmes is the director of community development for the Chicago chapter. Sutherland and Holmes have known each other since they attended Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, and both graduated from Glenbard West in 1984.
Holmes said he is amazed at how far Sutherland has progressed since her ruptured brain aneurysm.
"A lot of survivors have a lot of struggles," Holmes said. "Some can't talk. And Janet has been able to not only recover and be able to communicate, but she is able to work and live a relatively normal life."
Sutherland, a former Chicago radio reporter, is president of Sutherland Media. In May, Holmes and Sutherland went to Washington D.C. as part of the foundation's lobby day to raise awareness of brain aneurysms and push for research dollars. This is the fifth year they have participated in lobby day.
Plans are under way for a Chicago walk in September to help raise funds for research.
"There's a lot to be known," Sutherland said.