Janice Cordell, Brain Injury Survivor


When 73-year-old Janice Cordell didn’t show up to work at a local bank in Sullivan on December 1, 2016, her coworkers knew something was wrong, even though she was only five minutes late. They reached out to her son Mark who left work right away to check on his mom.

“I knocked on the door, no answer,” said Mark Cordell. “So I went to my place and got the keys. As soon as I opened the door, I knew something was wrong… I saw Mom laying on the floor. She was in her clothes from the night before. And of course, I was like, ‘Mom, mom.’ I thought she was dead. I put my ear down by her nose and could hear her breathing a little bit. We called 911, and they arrived in minutes.”

When Mark arrived in the emergency department at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital, he was met by a chaplain who soon asked if his mother had a power of attorney and a living will. He was concerned he may lose his mother that day.

Within minutes, Mark was met by Dr. Mohammed Rahman and Jennifer Sunderland PA-C, the neurosurgeon and physician assistant called to assess her condition. He learned his mother had a life threatening bleed in her brain which required emergent brain surgery.

“She had an epidural hematoma after falling and hitting her head,” said Sunderland. “And it was such a drastic bleed that she was seen in the emergency room by us immediately. She wasn’t very responsive at all, and we knew it was a critical situation where she required surgical intervention as soon as possible.”

Sunderland says that being able to help Janice immediately was key to her survival, adding she is truly a miracle patient.

“I am very grateful that I did come through this,” said Janice Cordell. “I feel that God has something in store for me in the years to come that I have left in my life. And if I can be a blessing for anybody about the situation that I went through, I would be more than happy to talk to anybody not to give up and to work hard. If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Eight months after her head injury and surgery, Janice has made a substantial recovery which has allowed her to get back to doing some of her favorite things. She is an avid gardener and takes pride in the fact that she was recently able to mow her lawn for the first time since her surgery. Janice hopes to get back to working as a teller at the local bank she’s worked at for ten years.

Janice’s family is very thankful to have their hard-working, inspirational and sweet loved one in better health.

“She’s a true miracle,” said Mark. “You know miracles sometimes just don’t happen with one thing. It takes a group. It takes a good hospital. It takes a good family member, good friends. It takes a community to make miracles happen. She’s definitely been on the receiving end of that.”

To learn more about the comprehensive neurosurgical care patients like Janice can receive at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital, please visit the neurosurgery services web page. HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital thanks the Cordell's for sharing Janice’s story and wishes her all the best.