SUNNY CARNEY
After a courageous 10 year fight battling Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Carney, of Plum, passed peacefully on Saturday, November 3. She was married to her devoted husband, Mark; and was a loving mother to Austen, Logan and Nolan; daughter of Patricia Jennings and the late James J. Jennings; daughter-in-law of Dale and Dottie Carney; sister of Judy Phillips (Ray Jr.), Lynn Pesta (Teddy), Michael Jennings (Vicki Lynn), James Jennings (Sue), Joseph Jennings (Elizabeth), Sheila Fortes (Jim); sister-in-law of Craig Carney (Julia). She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and was a true friend and inspiration to many.
In addition to being an inspiration to family and friends Sunny inspired carcinoid cancer patients across the globe through her blog, and then her book "The Sunny Side of Cancer. She spoke at numerous cancer events locally sharing stories of her journey which led her from Basel, Switzerland to all of the top Carcinoid Cancer specialists here in the states. She was an advocate for better diagnosis of the disease and for insurance coverage of treatments. She fought with grace and dignity, never letting the pain inside challenge her faith or diminish her love for life.
Memorials may be made to "Carney Family Fund", c/o S&T Bank, 2190 Hulton Road, Verona, PA 15147.
Friends received Monday 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday 3-8 p.m. at Unity Community Church, 215 Unity Center Road, Plum, PA 15239.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Unity Community Church with Rev. Frank Deluce officiating. Arrangements entrusted to CHARLES W. TRENZ FUNERAL HOME, INC.
VIEW GUEST BOOK Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


After over a decade of suffering from Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Jennings Carney has decided to fight back. She has currently undergone two proven treatments in Basel, Switzerland and is planning to return for two more. She is also planning on going to Houston, Texas for a six month period to undergo experimental treatments that look promising but are not FDA approved. She has exhausted all the FDA approved treatments here in the United States and will not accept that this is all there is for her. She has dedicated her fight to help others understand this rare cancer and to find successful treatments in the United States. Her strong faith in God and will to never quit has turned a 6 month life expectancy to over two years presently.

Below is an entry that was written by Sunny's husband Mark when she had her third bout. To become updated on her journey please enjoy her posts.

Please check back for updates and event information.

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147


Sunny's husband Mark tells their story...

A mother of three boys, a daughter, the baby sister to a large family, an aunt, a godmother to several, a trusted friend, an outreach volunteer, a business owner and my wife. Sunny Carney lives up to her name every time someone speaks to her; she is beautiful both in and out. She has been my biggest motivator, my rock and my inspiration in tough times, my biggest fan in good times, and most importantly my best friend. Told 14 years ago that having children may not be part of our future because of ovarian cancer, she kept the faith, and is a wonderful mother to our three sons- Austen, Logan, and Nolan. She is always ensuring that they know the Lord, love of life, kindness to others, hard work, and occasionally when to "shape up".

Her boundless energy, healthy lifestyle and positive attitude are infectious. She has served as president of our children’s PTA, organized committees that benefit those who are less fortunate in the community and led drives for those who have been caught up in unfortunate situations. She has done so much for others, usually without letting anyone ever know, I could not begin to list them. Her strong faith in God and modest upbringing has given her a sense of giving that only she can explain. When she successfully started her own photography business, she also started a non-profit division photographing family portraits for area families fighting cancer. Her friends say she is amazing and she simply shakes her head and wonders what all of the fuss is about.

Her mother, sisters, brothers and large extended family will tell you she is the one you can count on to lend an ear when needed and never judge. She was raised by her loving mother and father who was the warden of the Allegheny County Jail and actually spent most of her childhood in the residence connected to the jail. At a young age she witnessed more of life’s tragedies and obstacles through her neighbors, the prisoners, than most of us can imagine.

Although all of the aforementioned is remarkable it is not what makes her truly special. Sunny is a two time cancer survivor and now is currently fighting for a third time. After beating ovarian carcinoid cancer and undergoing serious surgery for carcinoid tumors in her right lung just three years ago, the carcinoid tumors returned in her lymph nodes, liver and bones. The size and proliferation throughout the liver of these tumors mandates immediate chemotherapy in four treatments over the next few months as well as monthly octreotide treatments. These painful treatments will hopefully stop the growth but are not a cure. There are numerous tumors in her spine, her skull, her hip, her leg, and her shoulder...all in the bones and she will wait on potential radiation to fight those.

What my wife has is Carcinoid Cancer Syndrome, an endocrine disease which is rare and spreads from organ to organ. As of right now the only known treatment for remission is administered by renowned clinics in Europe. However the treatment is not covered by our insurance. Our doctors have encouraged us to start raising money and matching grants could follow. Her lead oncologist strongly believes that Sunny would be a prime candidate to be a voice to get the message out regarding carcinoid cancer syndrome, bring this treatment to the United States and encourage approval from the FDA. Without this treatment, the tumors most likely will continue to metastasize in other organs and her fight will be ongoing. Sunny has set up The Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund to support her treatments. She believes that once she beats this cancer she can make a difference to others also suffering from Carcinoid Cancer.

Mark A. Carney

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147



Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers Day....'14

So Sun...I am drained....frickin Hold Me Now by Thompson Twins just came on....and you know what....not one of us will ever feel that hug or give that again....


Miss you...we miss you...Happy Mothers With Your Wings Day....we get it...you are better off....we were blessed to have you for as long as we did....but damn....it still hurts....on days like today...


But I am not in a bad place....trust me....a hard place temporarily...but that is life...ups and downs....don't get stuck in a moment I heard some Irish singer say...and it is true....this life is a journey....some of us are blessed to have the journey take on more than initially planned for....
it was a ride for free for life pass that we took to the limits...I still have a hard time putting clearly into words just how close we got...morphed...love doesn't even describe it....that word is tossed around so much so loosely....we had more....we had borrowed time...we knew it....perspectives changed....and we rode that timed ride way longer than the pimple faced little doctor said we should have....and then got on again...and again....and like being stuck on some kind of twisted cancer Ferris Wheel where you get stopped at the peak to let the other riders on and off and its just the two of you in that cart....nothing else to do but bond...that was us....so thankful...so thankful....


But today is not about us per say....it is you and the man-childs....and you are so much a part of what makes them who they are becoming....wow...I look back at your mantra...Faith...they know that no matter what they face they are not alone...trust me....Hope...that they can be all that you would have wanted them to be...and Love...they are in it...they give it...and they know they received it...and that is your greatest gift....teaching them those three words....but so much more....


Living...Giving....Caring....Humility...Achieving....Loyalty....Family...Responsibility...they get all of these...because they just watched how you lived each day...


Strength...forget about it....that's a no brainer....Tenacity....really?  I don't even need to comment on that one.....


You had so many best wishes this week....it was touching and humbling....you did your all to ensure that your boys got what you valued...and they did...


I speak for not just the four of us but so many....when I say thanks.....from the man-childs Happy Mothers Day....from me.....I miss you...and LOVE YOU....from others....best wishes....


Another milestone passed...still hurts like hell...but wouldn't exchange it for a second....


LOVE U


ME





















Sunday, May 4, 2014

18 Months.....

So in full disclosure this was done on Saturday...18 months to that final handholding goodbye...final thumbs up....final moment which I treasure forever....but wasn't going to post it for a number of reasons....this is hard....gets harder...is this how I move Forward?  Don't know but here it is....


Love You Sun Always


Me


18 Months


They tell me move on....time to go on....
Have they seen the Mothers Day Catalogs?......


You are so close...yet so far....
so here...yet not...


What should I feel when I am alone...yea...quiet time?
Life goes on for everyone else....but me...and you...frozen...stalled....


on....11.3.12


I want to scream at the world to hug and to love and to not let go....
I can't....they won't get it....they may think they do....but they won't...


You are gone....I get it....I have to move forward....I repeat that mantra.....
I wake to your face....I come down to your smile...I work in front of your eyes...


so don't give me that shit....


Don't try to tell me how to feel....don't pretend to know what's it like...
Sun you get it....and I can't explain it or try to put it into words anymore...


That's why these talks of ours are less frequent...they are harder now...
Move Forward....She wants you to...Really...where was that in our playbook....


Its 18 months....a frickin a year and a half...and I hurt...I ache...
Move Forward.....


My ass....


To what?


You made me look at like at life so differently...so changed my values...
You....You....became so much more the center of my world as the days went by....


So if a circle loses its center...if a shake loses its straw...if the earth loses its Sun....
Then what....a random figure....an undrinkable fast-food mess....a cold reality...I get it all....


but don't cry...don't feel sorry for me...I miss you but I will not let you down...
how is that....you impacted me so much....so seared in my heart....that my biggest fear....


Is letting you down....


The man-childs are doing well all considered....they as you know have found others...
I am so happy for them....as you are....they treat them with respect...and get what it means...


To have someone....(even if it is High School Love)....I know...


Move Forward....


how?....The old Beagle is gone....its me and the Pandora in the morning...and yes work...
But I have no one to push me...no one to hug...no one just to say Good Morning to...


So yes....maybe the world sees me as Moving Forward Mark....FB Mark....Whatever Mark....
But....You and I know....the hurt just takes up less weight now...it ebbs and flows...but exists.....


and after 18 months....its been so long since I held that hand....cheeks...brushed back that hair...
and yet I could print the image and moment now with no film...no smartphone...no pic....


the emotional image...hell your eyes weren't even open...but you felt....


Move forward.....


So as Tainted Love plays....that is how I feel....that song...
I love you so...still do...and I think it has scarred me for anyone else....


and if that is so....oh well...not my wish nor your plan...
I would trade places with you in a snap...just because you said I Do....


and I would....and you would...


But I couldn't....and I got to be there with you....as you crossed over...
No words....tears...raw....unless you have been there emotions....is what it is...


so sorry....baby...miss you so much...


and I am doing the best I can....we all are...I just do....we just do....
but it can't ever be the same....how could it....so maybe it is supposed to be different...


but....just in case the world forgot...I am moving Forward...whatever that is....
but...you were my perfect other...and now I guess are my angel...and I have no regrets..


just know that on Mothers Day...


We remember....


You...


18 months....


Damn...


Blink...


Don't blink...


Love...


here...and Gone....


Don't blink....


ALWAYS SUN


ME















































Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sometimes U Just Ache More Than Others....

Sunshine...I LOVE U...its been a little while since we had one of these "on-the-record"...talks...I know you have not been far...and that's good...you know what is said daily between us in certain moments stays between us...but I had to let you know that we are doing good....great in some aspects...and yes moving forward...but that doesn't mean that the hurt still doesn't haunt me and the man-childs...learned a new term for the experience of this process...triggers...as you know we had to put your little buddy down...the old Beagle...wow...that was so much to deal with...so much more than a pet...he was such a part of this family...such a link to you...and so sudden...and bam...and had to make that call again...damn....except this time Nolan insisted on being there...and I know he had things to work through...and its so hard to just open up but we did our best as we always do....


But once again....the house is void...no more pesky under my foot Beagle every time I hit the kitchen....no more little buddy even now as we talk for me to reach over and rub his ears....as he would by now be having one of those dog dreams....muffled barks at some imaginary visitor...content in his bed....now when the garage opens and we come in...no greeting with a shoe...it just sucks...but we go on...we move forward....as we always do...


Had two funeral homes to visit...two more triggers...I don't want to revisit them because there is still fresh grieving I guess would be the term and having been numb like that once....I don't want to trivialize the Foley's and Dugas losses....they hurt...and going to those things....I keep sunglasses on now...and yes I know you hate me for that....take them off I can hear you say...but I can't....I don't want to let the world in at those things....because my world was you...and I had to stand for hours and hug and kiss and shake hands with your casket like right there....and the video stream....sorry...but I don't like those things....but I go...right thing to do....and we move forward....as we always do....


And so much happening...I know you would be so proud of your boys...they only became my man-childs after...when they were forced to grow up way to fast...way to young...so yea...your boys...they rock...and they each have done so well...excelling in all areas...it really has struck home recently as Ace gets set to head off with the team to Florida....how you know how hard he worked after his knee surgery...and rehabbed...and now so excited...and how your dad played the game...and how well...you get it...its been unspoken...you are with him...and Logan...actually registering for classes next year that are tough and will challenge...he finally is getting it...that fierce determination you always had....and Nolan...still the sensitive one...and who for the first time in years has no sports going on right now to distract....so he is doing his best....he his really kicking some ass at the guitar....but I can tell...comes home from school now and seems lost as to what to do...restless...like his mother...


And then its March Madness time...you never really cared for this time of year....but tolerated it...and of course the replay of the famous Laettner shot to beat Kentucky....the night we walked back into the apartment and there was Jibs...and the replay...."the greatest finish in NCAA tourney history..."...and we had gone to a play for your class at the Playhouse....forgetful play....unforgettable how smokin hot you looked that night...but you felt bad...I loved Duke at the time...stupid Laettner sideburns...etc...but I would have gone to that play again the next night if you had asked....but you didn't....and every year....we got to relive that night....cuz they always show that replay....


And new show on that I know you would love....and not having you to just lay on the couch with and share it....some people just have no clue....and its a frickin shame...but having had the clue...its hard to not have it at times....but we move forward....as we always do....


So please don't think we or I am all in a funk again....or this is big pity thing....that is not the case...things are going well...we are moving forward...but that doesn't mean that the essence of what we had....or the love we shared...or the bonds we forged...that doesn't mean raw emotions aren't triggered at times....still learning that...but its a good thing....and I would never trade my life with anyone...because that would mean I never would have got to love you...and you made me feel like I was on top of the world...just by being you...and that is something that can never be taken from me...that feeling....


So yea....I ache...but move forward....I will always love you....


ME



























































Monday, March 3, 2014

Moving Forward With Closure

Sunny I Love You...and that will never ever ever stop....You are a part of me....etched somewhere in the deepest part of my heart...the sound of your laugh buried in the recording that makes up my life...the twinkle of those beautiful green eyes seared forever in permanent marker...There was and will always be a Sunny and Mark....


But since the last post I have continued to sort out this concept of what moving forward means and
I think I may have finally grasped it....I always had felt guilty when people, meaning well of course....would say "well Sunny would want you to be happy..."


We both know they were right of course....but when you are still moving on....not moving forward that is the last thing you want to hear....I WASN'T READY TO BE HAPPY....but it makes a lot more sense when you are ready...so I get it...Its not as if I could love you any more....or you would love me any less....I get that...


But I want you to know that our journey has formed in me whatever will happen next....just as it has with our amazing man-childs...I don't know what the next part of my journey will be....but I can honestly say I am looking forward to it....our story is written...no editing...nor would I want there to be...


From the way you looked in Jamaica...a bronzed Irish Goddess....to walking Shadyside's halls for hours hoping to get you to go into labor...to traveling to Basel and having the two of us...just the two of us....to rely on....the late nights when you just needed held....the way you fought for all of us....from that final moment when I realized you had moved on...and the thumbs up you gave me...so many laughs...so many good times....so much dignity in how you lived and so much you taught me about what it means to love...


Thanks....


This is not easy for me to say...here...and you know that...but I am ready to be happy again...whatever that means or brings....and you will always be a part of me...and that will never change....I gave you my word in 1995 for better or worse....richer or poorer....sickness and in health....and boy did we test the limits of those vows....and I give you my word again that you are with me always....


Thanks for being you....and until we talk again...well you know...


ME

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Teaser

Hello Sunshine....I Love You...I am taking the time tonight to share this talk...well not really a talk in the sense that we have had in the past...I am sharing this to let everyone know what I have been working on in the evenings since our last talk....and this is to share what is to come...the screenplay of our incredible summer of 2008...the period where the lifeplan changed....won't share the title....but its about done...the setting is the first wiffleball tourney fundraiser we did that September...the voice over is mine or the narrators....hope you get it....so its like the trailer or teaser....and its tough to put this into the proper format but here goes...use your imagination or your memory....




"The late fall sun finally peaks her head out and as it hits the frosted blades of grass in the outfield the fog or magical mist begins to slowly rise like an inverted cloud....covering the marked outlines of the ten fields that we had laid out the day before....as I swing the thin yellow bat to and fro I wonder what were we thinking.....who is going to show up and play wiffleball to raise money for Sunny....sure 62 teams had signed up....but would they show up....so much planning...so much help from family and friends....


Behind me I could hear the testing... testing of DJ Louie as he checked his gear...the beer wagon was in place....the grills were getting connected...the banners hung...Take A Swing Against Cancer.....We Will Love You Through It...the Chinese Auction tables getting meticulously arranged...the cars pulling in as volunteers jumped out to help set up....we had no idea what a day we were in for...


Sunny....she would be coming at the singing of the National Anthem....in pain...but pained by the prospect of staying away...she was a force...a magnet in the center of the iron field drawing all the good filings to her....the help and support we had was incomprehensible....would it be worth it....


And before you get the idea that this story is about a yellow bat and a plastic ball with holes in it....about a game we all played as kids....think again....


Its about one of those unique people you may come across once in a lifetime....one of those special individuals who are dealt what society may label a "bad hand"...and where most would just opt  to fold the hand....but instead parlays that hand into something so much greater...so much more...beyond bluffing...playing that hand as if it was a misdeal...and somehow other cards.....another hand was in play....a life that wouldn't be defined by what was happening to it....but would be defined by her own terms....and how she chose to face each day....


Never Give Up....Each of us faces our own private cancer of some kind....each of us has that choice to make how to deal with it....those were some of her favorite truisms....she had no tolerance for quitters....or Debbie Downers...or for wasting time....


Wiffleball....really....this is the story of a thousand people showing up on a late September afternoon....250 or so to play in the tourney....and the rest to show support....and to help...this is really the story of all of us....who didn't want Rocky to overcome the odds...the US Hockey team to beat the Russians back in Lake Placid...except in this story the Mighty Balboa wasn't fighting Apollo Creed and Miracles would not be on ice....Cancer...an incurable kind....so she was told....but Europe was an option for treatment....she found the option....we had to make it possible....


That's what this story is about...one person who selflessly gave of herself and refused to be beaten by a diagnosis....inspiring a whole community...us...all of us...to pick up a little yellow bat and stupid plastic white ball with holes....and to go have the best time of their life making the impossible possible....


That's what this story is about....people...helping and giving to help a fighter keep on fighting....


That's Sunny's story...my story....my kids story...our story...



























Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Regis...Can I Use A Lifeline....I Call Sunny

Sunshine I Love You...Its been a few weeks...I have struggled with this talk....I have several drafts done but could never hit Publish...Today was fifteen months....damn...but not the reason for my using the "lifeline" tonight....I have accepted and get that you are up there....and better off...and that we were blessed with our time....and our love...and that I am not alone...but I feel loneliness....I feel empty a lot...like last night...sit down to watch the SB game and it just was a dud....hype...still an event...still a moment....but the moment was a letdown....I feel that way a lot lately....So I guess what finally got me off my ass so to speak to finish this talk of ours was a call today from another reporter....and as I shared our story for the umpteenth time...I found myself bragging again about how well the man-childs are doing....and I realized that a good chunk of it is because they have been able to continue to be blessed with teammates....friends they see and talk to every day....and ....girlfriends...they are pushed and challenged and interact meaningfully every day....


And thankful for that....because we are getting along fine....but at this age in their life they don't want to be too close to their old man....I get that...and I am so happy for them that they have been able to share their emotions with....well...a great group of friends....and the young ladies that have become regular parts of their day....


As for me...adult friends have lives to live....have their own challenges....Family....there....but also have their own lives to lead....and I get that....can't put it all on hold for the Carney Men....So I truly get it....not bitter....not the point once more....the point is....I have now a keen sense of what we had...and what I miss the most....Love....yea yea...but let me be more specific....I have no one to talk to with everyday about my successes.....my failures....my plans for the day...my goals....and I realize now how much you drove and pushed me....and that is gone....and working from home....it was great and a blessing when we needed it to be the most....but now its a double edged sword....I can still and am still here for the man-childs if anything comes up....but without you to communicate with ...to push me...to share every detail with if need be....and get your input and thoughts...its also a downward spiral to Depression Drive...


There I said it...and yes there are days literally....not figuratively....especially since this cold kicked in...that the man-childs leave....I put the dog out....and then I shut down...for hours...its just easier sometimes to just want to try to drift off with thoughts of you than face a reality that is Sun-less...and when that happens....and I get up and force myself to make calls at the crack of 10  on those days....I feel guilty...and then it spirals....and I have to really struggle to move forward....never had that issue with you...and so I let this family down...and that adds on...well you get it....


And I see the man-childs and how well they seem to be adjusting....and I ask whats the difference?  And I pray....and I pray some more....and I keep coming back to the same conclusion...they have daily interaction with friends....and girlfriends....and it seems to help them...and I interact daily with God but I think He got bored with talking to Himself so that's why Adam and Eve yadda yadda yadda came to be....and I am not at all discounting or diminishing my relationship with Him...I wouldn't have made it this far quite frankly without it...


So we joked about "my moving on"...actually you had your list....which I hated the whole concept of...but what does that mean?....and when is it appropriate.....and what is appropriate....and do I ask the man-childs for their thoughts on the whole concept....what I do know is that I can't keep going on this way....the fat beagle is tired of me talking his ear off...I am starting to fall into a rut I fear...not wanting to have people over and not caring...heck I didn't even bother showering after the gym today....who the hell cares right????I know gross....but you get the point....I am so confused as to what to do....and since we are always brutally honest here in our talks...I get input from our friends...but I dismiss it.....not because they have never walked in my shoes...hell I haven't even walked in these shoes yet...but because if they just reached out and talked or hung out with me maybe I wouldn't be in this do I move on crossroads....


And another fear I have is the potential down the road to have to meet another family...I have two... mine...and yes the Jennings....and I am so thankful for all of them....and the idea of having to maybe meet another group...not ready I guess...but am I getting ahead of myself...I don't know...that's why I finally had to finish this talk with you....its so complicated....I am so conflicted....and I am so devoid of real emotional connections with people right now besides the man-childs of course...that I am afraid if something doesn't change in the near future I am going to fall over that precipice...


Ah shit....Sunny....can you give me some guidance here....answer the question....what is moving on????....


I need your help....or I am going to some way some how screw everything up....so remember I have to read the question and you have to answer in like 30 seconds or something once old Regis says go....ready.....


I LOVE U SUN


ME




now....


Go......























Monday, January 13, 2014

Nolan Is 15....

Sunny....I Love You....We Love You....It is the little guys fifteenth Birthday...I wanted to say something special....something clever...something deep....I know he misses you....we all do...I know he would tell that he is doing good down here...I know he would tell you not to worry...I know he would tell you how much you meant to him and I am certain he would tell you how much he Loves You....and so....instead of doing something clever....I just did something from the heart...his heart....I am going to let him tell you in his words...I found the "Speech For Mom...by Nolan"....i.e...his personal thoughts written with no input from me that he stood up and read to you in front of 500 or so people at your funeral service....I can't do any better....and its his day...you two should talk...I Love You...


So here it is....



Hello everyone, my name is Nolan Carney and I am Sunny’s youngest son. I would first like to say thank you to all of you for coming today, and for all the support and love that I have received in the past few days (even though it feels like months). I bet that most of you are wondering how my family and I have remained so strong through this time, and I can only thank God for giving us such a loving community. I have received so many text messages and my facebook has been blowing up due to all the encouraging and heart-warming words that mean more to me than I can say. A lot of people have been asking me how I was doing, and the only way to describe this feeling is the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb. You older guys know what I’m talking about. To put things into perspective I still can’t believe she’s gone. It seems like just yesterday she was nagging at me to pick the clothes up on my bedroom floor. Now I’m not going to stand up here and pretend that losing a mother, and a best friend, is easy. But I can promise you that all you guys are making it so much easier. As I look around the room and see all the people that my mom has touched it makes me smile, and I know that she is smiling right by my side. Each one of you owns a special spot in her heart, as well as mine, Austen’s, Logan’s, and my dad’s. I’ve been told that losing a loved one is like a new chapter in the book of life, but I disagree. I feel that it is a new book in the series of life. A sequel that may not be as good or exciting as the first, but will definitely keep you turning the pages for more. Some of the highlights of the first book; my very first memories of her taking us to Target and letting us pick out any hot wheels car that we wanted (from the dollar section of course), the first wiffleball tournament and seeing how many people loved us and supported us and her fight, Buying us each an ornament (including our dog, Oscar) ever year for Christmas. Some of the plot twists; being told my mom had 4 to 6 months to live, seeing her everyday for 4 years after that, and of course, her death. I always like to say that she turned four months into four years. And what a 4 years it was. I know that she left this Earth young, but if you look at what she’s accomplished, she doesn’t seem like a 42 year old. She truly has left all of her footprints in concrete. For those of you that don’t know what I mean when I say that, I would like to read you a poem by Mary Stevens that has inspired her through the roughest of times.

 
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

             Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

                  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

                       Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

                           other times there were one set of footprints.

 

                                  This bothered me because I noticed

                                that during the low periods of my life,

                             when I was suffering from

                         anguish, sorrow or defeat,

                     I could see only one set of footprints.

 

          So I said to the Lord,

      "You promised me Lord,

         that if I followed you,

             you would walk with me always.

                   But I have noticed that during

                          the most trying periods of my life

                                 there have only been one

                                       set of footprints in the sand.

                                           Why, when I needed you most,

                                          you have not been there for me?"

 

                                 The Lord replied,

                          "The times when you have

                  seen only one set of footprints,

          is when I carried you."

One of the many messages that I took from this poem, and my mom, is that you can always rely on God, no matter what your “cancer” is. I say cancer because to my mom always said that everyone has a cancer; whether it is cancer itself, or if it is an addiction, a hard time, or an unforgivable past. Whatever your cancer is, you must use it as a way to inspire others, like my mom did, and to turn a negative thing for you into a positive for others. So every time you feel down, upset, or in any type of pain, think of my mom. Think of how she chose to live her life. Think of how much she has accomplished.

Sorry if I am getting off track here, but I want to take a minute and talk about my past. My mom has, and always will have, the biggest impact on my life. Me and her were close. Go ahead and hate, but yes, I was a bit of a mommas boy. I remember when I was little and she convinced me to go to a charity event at river view for cancer, not hers though. I thought she was crazy and was probably on some pretty strong medicine when she said she wanted to spend her Saturday morning at a charity for something that had no impact on us, but that was typical Sunny. Long story short we went, just me and her, and we had the best time. After that we went to many more fundraisers and church events and had a good time everytime. Those are the thing that she made sure we did. I will never forget a couple years ago when I asked her what we were going to do when your cancer is gone, and we don’t need to have anymore fundraisers. She looked at me and said,’’ Nolan, we are still going to have fundraisers, but we are going to do it for other people.” So what ever you guys do, don’t stop being there for others, don’t stop going to fundraisers and charity events, and most importantly, don’t ever forget what she taught you.

Another big impact she had on me was she got me started on music. I will never forget the smile on her face when I told her I wanted to play guitar. She got so excited and bought me all the stuff I needed and gave it to me for Christmas. She always would encourage me to stick with it, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did. Music is my way to escape, to forget about life, and to express my emotions through song.

The last thing I would like to say is thank you all so so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I would say it some more but my brother is waiting to use the computer right now to write his speech, but seriously, thank you. Don’t ever forget her, don’t ever forget the loved ones that you all have lost, and most importantly, live everyday as if it were you last. Sunny’s Team forever!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014.....

Sunshine....I Love You...its so hard to believe that another new year is here without you...we rang it in with family and friends....but it wasn't the same...tried...but not having you to kiss....to hug...to hold...to squeeze...to run my hands through your thick hair...to retire late to bed and go to hold you and not have you say...."move over you stink..."....to not hear your laugh...to not have you organizing the events...the noisemakers....the toasts....the hugs for the boys...these holidays are still incredibly hard....puts things in perspective...I am not angry or jealous of those who have loved ones to share this time of year with....its not their fault...but I do feel a vast void where YOU used to be...Love ripped away....Love all in....and now lost...its an empty sensation although I put the game face on knowing that my New Year is just further taking me away from you....I know its impossible but if I could I would rather hit rewind than Play....you would be with us....with me....and I could see those dancing green eyes and big grin one more time...

Will I ever Love again?.....I must admit I am afraid of answering that question....there is no right answer....just a shitty one that I have to make...

This talk isn't about me feeling sorry for myself though baby...I am not alone though I am lonely...but its not the end of the world....I just read that January is Give Thanks Month....so I want to switch gears or tracks or whatever now....and I just want to say "Thanks"...for all of the wonderful memories of these holidays you helped create....for all of the extreme effort you extolled to make sure that the man-childs and I had the best of this time of year....for going the extra mile....at great pains I know at the end to make certain that the meaning of the season was grasped....memories....

I am thankful for every New Year we rang in together...I am trying my damnedest to fight back tears now...because I really miss you tonight...its snowing and its freezing cold out...and this is exactly the kind of night you would have wanted to cuddle up....I just hope that those that read this appreciate the value of just cuddling up....God...to wrap my arms tightly around those little shoulders and hips of yours....oh well....I have wonderful memories....seared in my heart....not my brain...

I have a lot to Give Thanks for this month...so I started tonight....I will continue...but I think now I will just stop....because honestly...I am not in a "Give Thanks"  mood right now...just being honest babe....I can't always put the happy "boy life sure is swell...." face on...because you know that yes we are moving on....and yes we get that you are better off....and we get a little better each day...but you know what....this time of year can still suck....losing you hits hard....real hard...I just really really want to hold and kiss you one more time...2014....

thanks....for getting through 2013....but saying "Happy f-ing New Year 2014"....still felt like an incomplete existence...shouldn't????.....I am getting better but to those who don't know....sorry....but it is what it is....not a whole family New Year picture...not yet....hopefully someday....hopefully....but until then....don't judge....don't suggest therapy....don't say get over it Mark....just don't....

You were my life...you were my life...you were my life....and it just hits hard this time of year....

LOVE YOU AND MISSING YOU TERRIBLY NOW SUN

ME
















Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our International Cancer Journey--5 Years Later.....

Sunshine I Love You....Its a week before Christmas and with everything that we have going on for some reason earlier today I was taken back to where we were five years ago...getting ready for that first trip to Basel....and so I am going to share what the feeling is like now...not revisiting old posts...don't need to...I have been encouraging everyone to give of themselves this holiday season and to not stress the small stuff...create an experience...give your time...give your presence...and so when I look back to where we were five years ago the week before Christmas I can describe the emotions...the feelings...the whole thing...no need for a DVR...and this is not a downer conversation sweetheart...this is just what it is...because as I look back for some reason on that week I am not sad...tears I guess a little...but not sad...memories...seared in my brain...wouldn't push reset on that time at all....you and I both knew that those three trips to Basel invoked so many different parts of the emotional prism...tugged...no yanked at the rope that was our faith....but also brought us so much closer together than we had been since before the kids were born...it was literally you and I (and yes for a great few days each time Peter....)isolated with each other and our faith halfway across the world...some kind of crazy cancer forced Euro honeymoons....but this week five years ago we didn't know that yet....

This talk is not for anyone other than you and I but I will share it...this is not to encourage or discourage....just a honest stripped down to the core honest recollection of where we were five years ago...yet I know that we should share it because five years ago seems like yesterday yet so much has changed...so much was learned...so much was endured....so much was experienced and so much is gone....don't take anything for granted....don't waste this chance we have here to Love each other and maybe just maybe show what that Love looks like cancer and all...we grew closer...we fell in Love more with each step of that journey because we chose to...and as that Love strengthened....nothing could come between us....nothing could ever remove the sense that all was good...because He was with us and in charge and if we kept supporting each other....pushing each other...hugging and Loving each other who the hell was going to derail that....so blessed...

Yet I digress....five years ago this week before the holidays was one of angst...nerves...it had been a whirlwind few months leading up to this week....diagnosed again that the cancer was back...ravaging the liver...chemo-immobilizations at Presby...researching potential cures which led us to Europe...having to raise the funds....first wiffleball tourney....first race...all of that....sitting down with our boys...wow...that couch seemed so small....not big enough for all of the tears that fell that night...looking back I see now how we had so much to do....so much to comprehend...so much to take action on...so much to pray for...so much to just take care of that we didn't have time to have our heads spin....that would happen later...we were going to Basel frickin Switzerland home of Novartis  on January 2nd...treatment for Monday the 5th...although we had honeymooned in Jamaica neither of us had ever even had to get a passport let alone been to Europe...and what the heck was Basel...internet research....real city...money center...old city...modern banks...cold....say what????

Nervous...you bet....apprehensive....damn straight...scared...of course...what if scenarios running through our heads....we talked about them every night that week five years ago....what kind of Christmas could we have just in case it was the last one....did we do enough to get the kids prepared...family invading our space...had to....lists to write for kids schedules....to dos...phone numbers for contacts...dinner drop off lists....laundry instructions....rides to games...practices...Pivik teacher contacts...prayers....would New Years suck????would this be the last holiday season....did we forget anything....wills done?????.....we had so much stuff to try to get our arms around that at night when I would wrap my arms around you and squeeze probably too tight in hindsight but not wanting to ever let you go that you were too tired to say "let me sleep"....you were already...

We had faced a Cancer Christmas before in 2004 when you had the right lung basically removed....it was a hard road back but life was getting back to normal...no life was better than normal...we had taken on the challenge....had been blessed with His healing touch and we had learned from it....to the point where I think we had put it out of the realm of possibility that it would return....I know I was back to my things are great life is a party outlook on life....you were feeling great looking even better and really running this ship we called a family....so when this came...it had been a real awakening...not that it should have had to have been....you think when you have beaten it twice...have had three miracle boys...one ovary and all...with everything we had been through....you think you would appreciate each day as a gift...the present...you did...I slipped back into the trap of feeling we were invincible...immune now...God had delivered us again....late 30's....house....career...life was a party because we had beat last call so to speak....so yeah honey...I wish I wouldn't have pissed away a few of those moments in hindsight....but again I digress...

This was different....timetable....no cure...brutal treatments here...Europe....story now was all over the local media....the articles in the Advanced Leader...the whole community knew we were going to Europe...they rallied behind us...amazing outpouring of Love that is still humbling me five years later...but this story was evolving so fast...at the supermarket getting hugs and best wishes and if you need anythings....at church...called up front for prayer....at the school bus stop....hugs...at the gas station hugs....it was an unbelievable few months leading up to this week five years ago....

So there we were...in bed....the kids would have their last day before holiday break the next day a Friday...we had one of the most open I guess you could say life altering conversations we would have....never shared this openly...nor privately for that matter....we were both just reading our Bibles....or at least trying to...you reached over to me....looked at me and asked "are we crazy for doing this?  What if it doesn't work?  Are you positive we are doing the right thing going to Basel?"

Wow.....

I hadn't expected that...I guess we both may have been thinking that as the tickets arrived...the plans were to the point that turning back was becoming less of an option everyday....I was reading James...actually had reread the same first few verses over and over because didn't want to turn the page...I don't know...but when you reached over like that I remember just reading that verse "Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance"....we laughed out loud at the irony....sat quiet for a minute...still holding onto each other....should we pray?....a few verses later on same page from James....."But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.".....so we agreed that we pray.....believe....trust...have faith that it was right thing to do....let it go...give it up...whatever and all of the above and that we would enjoy the next two weeks with our boys and family and friends....we would let it go....

Private moment....decision made...and once made we still had some nerves....but an incredible sense of peace...can't describe it....it was as if the connection or realization was made that you and I were going to do this...halfway across the globe...He was going to be with us...and that was going to be good enough....that was it....so yeah...this week five years ago was a hectic crazy period but ultimately a crossroads on our GPS of life that we had to chose the path....and glad we did....

So now five years later....a lot has happened since...but the message and lessons you tried to share even back then still hold true now...probably even more so....face tests and trials head on with His guidance....and have faith that it will be OK...get the big picture and don't ever worry or fret the small details...it was an amazing time and I am so thankful we got to share it....

LOVE U

ME














Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another One Hits 16

Sunshine I Love You....wow....I know its hard to believe....Our Logie...Lucky...is the big 16....two man-childs over the PA DOT hump one more pending....(I am not rushing....ssshhh..)....I know its late...but they just got home from the Steelers game...thanks to my brother for taking the b-day boy...and thanks to the special family friends who generously called Nolan yesterday and offered four tickets....I stayed home and warm...(they have underachieved...and lets be honest if I am freezing at a game now it will be to watch our man-children play...or it better be a meaningful game...been there done that...took the shirt off...got enough of those stories...)....man-childs had a great time and saw a win...of course b-day boy informs me he has to finish an outline for school tomorrow...ugh....I asked him all afternoon..."do you have homework?....no dad its done....oops I forgot this one class...."....wasn't even on the parent portal so I can't claim to be the sucker...but I am going to push his permit test back at least a week now...rascal...(and not the word I was thinking we he dropped this on me at 12:30....)....and he has the nerve to get irritated at me when this always happens...like somehow its on me...or its not his fault....(I know...looks like your side....takes after me....shut it...)....but he tests so smart...I have to keep finding the right buttons...and I will...but please throw in a prayer to go with mine....because I don't want to gray....

and now wow...Pandora has one of the U2 songs playing that you used to rock Logan too...and we used to hold him too...and its a rare one....Running To Stand Still....God I miss you at times....I can't imagine how these boys do it....they are so strong in how they go about their days...with their friends....with their teammates...with their schoolwork...with everything...to say I am proud of them would be like saying the Pillsbury Doughboy occasionally dabbles in pastries...I am sorry back to our talk....

We used to spend a lot of time "debating" the birth order issues....how much attention for each kid....did we treat our boys differently....did we push or favor any of them????....(and btw..as Send Me An Angel by Real Life comes on Pandora...yep....cheesy 80's one hit wonder...but foot still tappin...)....we used to have intense discussions...(ok....you would yell at me and we would argue...but we did it out of love...)...because you thought that I ignored Logan when it came to sports for the "golden child"...and yet in reality it was frustrating as hell for me because I think that because everything involving sports back then came so easy to Ace that Logan didn't feel it was worth it to try..."Logan want to go catch....no dad...tired...Ace...want to go catch...sure dad race you to the yard..."...and reality is after Nolan was born and we had three....neither one of us had experience of middle child....I was oldest of two...you were youngest diva of seven....that's right...said it...pffftt...so we didn't let Logan quit...but I so enjoyed building Thomas sets with him across the whole first floor of the house....and Lego cities...and just hanging...and now ironically he plays the same sport and same position I did through high school....goalie...and is damn good...but each one of them was and is so different as they grew and as they grow...

And so I guess after all these years I will share with you that you were partially correct...I did favor "golden child"...but not "the"....because I have learned that all of them are golden....If you gave me the chance to hit the Mega Millions Tuesday for $550 million but our boys couldn't share it....I would say screw it...each of them is golden....is priceless...and its not up to chance or odds to realize that...so we love each of them in the unique way they love us back....Logan has always been in the middle....at times it seems Ace and Nolan go out of their way to annoy him....gang up on him...Ace because I think he feels the need to assert himself as the "eldest"....and Nolan because Ace just suckers him in to his little games....they love each other deeply but they definitely have those "brother" moments...

Each of them has traits from both of us...but this talk is about Logan...so having said that he definitely has your short fuse....no time for BS type attitude...he has your soft eyes....your facial features...(actually he and Ace are mistaken for twins or each other so its comical)....he is so frickin smart that he doesn't want the pressure of doing well so the bar gets raised....I think he is content being in his comfort zone...small group of really good friends...girlfriend...knows everything about the Pirates including facts that I forgot....reminds me of myself....has helped friends that have reached out to him in times of their grief or struggles...(sometimes  late at night which I know shouldn't but does irk me....remind me of anyone????)....he does an amazing job relating to the kids at his group at church....younger...they love him...real patience....real affinity for it....real passion and sense of pride....(again remind me of anyone????).....he is so damn dear to me....and as he grows I can see your influence....your lessons....he gets it....does he come and out and always talk about it....no....gets that from me....but when we do talk he opens up like you....unless I disagree with something he says...and then he isn't afraid to speak his mind....(yes dear....just like you....)....but he has had to grow so much faster than we ever did....so I still am  in awe that prayers get answered and faith shines on as he goes day by day....

Ace now is at that age where he feels the need to push me at times....and then tries to con me...God is he like me....and Nolan is still the baby man-child who wants peace on earth goodwill for all and tries to make it happen...that leaves Logan somewhere in the midst....he pushes me...but also does his damnedest to make you proud....needs to work on his con game....and probably could care a lot less who he makes smile at times around here...because it can be his way or highway....which is a great thing....you...over time he will grasp the concept of compromise....or his girlfriend will teach him haha...

But after taking all of them to Dr Wolfson last week for true physical and flu shots for first time since well you know....(and yes they have had sports physicals and such...just not there)....he met with each of them and after would pull me aside privately and tell me how each of them was so well adjusted...and how strong and adjusted they seemed....and how proud I should be of them....I took a step back....I see them every day....we have our ups and downs...our laughs and our "attitude adjustments"....so I guess I still am blown away when someone who is a professional in the field...and who has known our boys since ever....shares that they are doing well....answer to prayer...testament to your guidance....and proof that I haven't screwed things up yet....

So Logan has come so far over the years...and I chose not to go all weepy with specific stories of him over the years...because you were there....don't need to....they are precious memories...for all of us...but we move onward....with your blessing.....you set the example and we are trying to follow....Logan is one heck of a kid....one of my "golden childs".....you did good with him baby....you did good....and I won't drop the ball and neither will he...(as I Promise You by When In Rome comes on....yep...can't make this shit up.....sorry one of our cheesy songs....going to break...)

Emotionally drained....sorry....I have that peace but it still hurts me to realize that my mother can wish me happy b-day but my kids mother can't wish my kids happy b-day....still one of those hard things....but not going to get stuck in it....

LOVING YOU SUN

ME