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
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'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
C/o S & T Bank
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The real reason for the lapse in communication is it has been a really long couple of days. If you recall the blogs from the week or so after the return from Basel last time, you will remember that it was about a week later that she had excruciating pain and discomfort which unfortunately lasted about 8 or 9 days. When people asked me "How's Sunny doing" my answer was it was like being with her during labor for 24 hours a day for a week straight. I think everyone understood. Well the same type of pain kicked in again over this past weekend and here it is Tuesday morning and we hope and pray that it won't last the rest of the week. Besides just the physical nature of the pain this week has also tested her ability to stay positive. I think part of what makes her so special is that she has an uncanny knack for finding the good in things or people and to never let her situation get her down. Just like a boxer after going a strong, hard eight or nine rounds but without a knockout of his opponent may feel tired , discouraged, or worse yet, may question if he has what it takes to finish the bout...just like that boxer needs his cornerman to pump him out, needs his cutman to take care of the physical pains, and needs the crowd for encouragement when the bell rings announcing its time to stand up, get back out there and do it all again we can help her.
She will get a new type of pain injection on Thursday which is supposed to be a better option than what she has been taking, I am going to continue to do what I do which is to try to make her see the humor in the world around her, and how blessed she really is. What you all need to do is to be her crowd. Pray for her, call her just to catch up and say hello, email her a positive note or scripture, let her know that the fight is not over, and reenforce that it is certainly a fight worth fighting.
She is an amazing woman who has touched me in more ways than even I can recall. I know that when she talks about how after a year of this she is tired...just drained of fighting, that it is not a permanent change to her personality. It is the natural reaction of someone who loves life so much will experience as she goes through the ups and downs (but mostly ups for her) of the most important fight...the fight for her life. She isn't going to be down long, you and I all know that, buts lets help pick her up quicker...lets help her get back to her usual PMA self.
Thanks for everything all of you have already done, and the dinners, the school fundraisers, the community fundraisers, the kind notes, and the prayers. I know she has picked me up more times than any wife should ever to , and so I am embracing the challenge to get her back to her "I kicked cancer's ass" bad ol self.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I love this quote. I spent the evening last night at my son's chorus concert with my girlfriend Karen. I was telling her that people have always commented to me that I don't show my true emotions about having this cancer. I told her that I have people tell me that I can cry more and don't need to put up a front to help others think that I am fine. I expressed to her that I really don't feel sorry for myself and am going to live my life looking forward. And I will say again "I am not sad and do not feel hopeless". Yes there are times that I cry, who would not going through what I am going through. But I have decided to wipe the tears quickly and get back to enjoying life. She then told me this quote that she had engraved in her High School graduation ring.
If you walk towards the Sun the shadows always follow!
I laughed to myself because my favorite quote back then was, "What goes around, comes around, and you'll get yours". Not quite as inspirational.
I had never heard her quote before but I think that I am going to steal that from her and use it as my new quote. If you keep walking to the positive, the beauty of the sunshine, all the negative will fall behind you. Believe that the best is yet to come and that life is full of good things. Enjoy the heat of the sun on your face and don't turn around to look at the abyss of the shadows. Everyone knows that when you stand in a shadow you feel cold and dark. You tend to slump down or wrap your arms around yourself to stay warm and protective. Their is no way you can not feel great and energized when you stand in the sun. Doctors even suggest that you try to get at least 10 minutes of sun a day to boost you happiness. God even put vitamins in the sun that help with depression and anxiety. You can spread your arms and feel the happiness hitting your body. It is impossible to feel bitter or depressed when you are walking towards the beauty of the sun. When you believe that hope is just up head and the doom and gloom are behind you all you can do is smile and have peace. I got my nickname "Sunshine", later shorten to "Sunny", minutes after I was born. There are many jokes my siblings tell about why I was named this.... to many kids....ran out names....dad wanted another boy and it was supposed to be spelled "Sonny".....parents where hippies. But I think it was my father knowing he was going to instill this attitude in me. So why not name me this.
I have always tried to surround myself with good positive people. I think that is why I have such an amazing support system around me during this journey. It's been very easy for me to do this because I actually feel ill when I am around a negative soul. I have this great gift, or at times it is a huge fault, that I actually will go out of my way to avoid someone who is always looking into the shadows of life. You know "the glass half empty" type of person. A person that will come up to you, say hello and then go on and on about all the problems everyone has. Or someone who will take a good event or scenario and find some negative in it. For example, I had a situation years ago where I was having a huge surprise party for Mark and I was so excited. We lived in the city in a tiny city home and on a street that had limited parking. You know those city streets where people actually put folding chairs out to save a spot for them. I eventually learned to put a brick on my chair after losing a dozen or so to a bad gust of wind. Anyways, I actually had one of those people say to me, "I would not have a party here because where will people park". I did not care if they park in China....all I cared was that Mark was happy and surprised. The positive people will show and enjoy their 1/2 mile walk from Schenley Park to get there. The shadows will stay home and the party would be better for that. Or how about those who pretend that they are sympathetic of someone less fortunate by telling you all the unfortunates hopeless problems. Deep down they are gossiping. Those are one's that need to walk in someone else's shoes. Let's not forget the worst of the "boo whooo" bunch, those who just love to be miserable and make others miserable. They are actually not happy until someone is in a strife.
I am not saying I am perfect. I have caught myself every once and a while becoming part of the "boo whooo" bunch. But then I turn around and face the sun again. I let the shadows walk behind me and stay in the cold. To be completely understood, these are not the amazing people who are not afraid to speak or just reach out to give me a hug. Or the friends who will cry with me when I need to cry. Or the once who cry for me when they know I am hurting. Or the once that ask how I am feeling and truly hope deep down that it is good news. Or those who out the blue just mail me card or stop at the store for me. Or those who secretly watch out for my children and every once in a while give them a little hug or a "that a boy". Or the once that pray for me on a daily basis. Those are not part of the "boo whoooo" bunch. Those are my supporting posse. God, I am so blessed that the list can go on and on of all the positive people I have in my life. I have no time for the negative once. So to be so blunt but it is how I have always felt and those who know me well know that about me.
My whole life I have tried to avoid the "boo whooo" bunch and can tell you I only know a small handful of them. But now my time so precious and I need more then ever to be with optimistic marvelous people. I think I am doing a good job at that. Karen and I unfortunately were not the best behaved at the concert last night. We actually laughed through the whole thing. We laughed so hard we began to cry. She was embarrassed but I told her people just think we are crying because I have cancer. Just Joking. We were not laughing at the kids preforming, after all our baby were up there, we had no idea why we were laughing. We were like little kids who just saw a nakey picture in National Geograhics. It was actually shameful that we did this but I know it was great medicine for me and for her.
I watched Jimmy Valvano's last speech to the ESPY in 1993 on utube the other day with Mark, for anyone who has never heard it, it will change your life. He was dieing from yes, liver cancer. He said there are three things you must do every day to have a full life:
1. You should LAUGH
2. You should THINK
3. You should bring your emotions to Tears.
Well last night the day was almost over and I did not laugh yet. So thank you Karen for the help and sorry to the rest of the parents their that thought we were inappropriate. But I will advise you try it sometime, it realy felt great.
So on this beautiful spring day walk into the sun and leave the shadows behind you. If you do that you will have a great day.
If you walk towards the Sun the shadows always follow!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I've been catching up on all my work and photography projects for clients. I also started back up my nonprofit division again and scheduled one family for portraits already.....for the last week in April because the agony should be gone by then. So if anyone knows of any families that are going through the cancer journey please refer them my way. They can go to my photo website, www.sunnysphotos.com, and email me through there. I am hoping to expanded this large enough that my photography colleagues will pitch in and volunteer with me. I would love to grow this division and be able to give cancer families the gift of memories. Cancer changes the lives of so many. When struck with this disease, no matter what kind or what stage, you start to have two lives. The before cancer life and the cancer life. Some are even blessed with the after or cured cancer life. I can not tell you how many times my boys will remember an event from the past and then end the story with, "that was before the cancer". Now they even go as far as saying, "that was the lung cancer time" or "remember before the first time you were sick when we......". I am sure those who have gone through this journey and are reading this are shaking their heads with complete understanding of what I am talking about. I want to record the happy times of the cancer journey. When suffering from cancer you go through so many down times and those are not what a cancer patient or their families want to remember. However, when going through this trail you have many good and fun times. You and your family live your life endlessly and that is what I want to document for others. I want them to be able to look back at the happy times that cancer gives. Hey, another "GOOD IN CANCER". My list is growing. So to give a family the gift of portraits from the times of their journey is the least I can do. After all, I have been blessed with so much support I need to give in some way. So please refer my way.
Once again I have completely got off track. I tend to do that when I become passionate about something. I will blame my signs of Adult ADD on the cancer. Whenever I don't like something I do or some bad habit I have I just blame it on the cancer. I think Mark is starting to catch on because he was not happy with the new scratch on the only car we have now. THE GOOD IN CANCER again......note blame faults or mistakes on the cancer. Back to what I am trying to do before the hell hits, I am mostly trying to spend all the time I can doing fun things with Mark and the boys. It's been hard because I am not 100%, but that is the good in knowing what is to come. The way I feel now will be better then the way I will feel next week at this time. So I am trying to take advantage of this time with them. Of course the boys are not completely happy with Mom bothering them all the time. But they will get over that when I am in bed all week next week. I will say I even got beat in a game of scrabble by Austen and he was not "to cool to play with me". Of course he knew he could kick my butt because my spelling is shameful. I'll blame that fault on the cancer too.
To answer the big email question, "I am hanging and fighting". Please keep praying for me. Keep your prays strong next week when the treatment makes it to my bones. I know that the more pain I have the better the treatment is working. At least that's the story I am sticking to.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Good news first....they showed no growth in any of the tumors. They showed stability. Bad news....there was not shrinkage, which is what I was hoping for. I must say I was speechless last Monday and was glad I was isolated on the "twilight zone". I had time to just think with no one around me. Just me and the white walls planning out my next move.
The Swiss doctor explained to me that stability is not bad news. It prolongs my life for a year or more. He said he has had patients that have stayed stable for over 10 years. Of course he added that they were not as metastasized as me but he also doesn't know me like I do. He went into the fact that 9 months ago looking at my scans I would of had no chance without this treatment. He said that in January (my first treatment), I looked so much worse and the cancer was taking a toll. He was wonderful at pumping me up. He wants me to see a world renowned doctor in Iowa and continue to follow my progress with scans. I was given some suggestions on diet and exercise. He also suggested an additional monthly treatment administrated at Hilman. That one is covered by insurance, YA. Then if all goes well return in August for more treatments.
So it's the waiting game. In the mean time, I have a lot of living to do. I have decided to restart my nonprofit division of Sunny's Photos. That is where I donate my time to families who have been struck by cancer and give them the gift of portraits. I did this for many years but when I was rediagnosed in May I just could not get myself up to doing it again. So I am now motivated to begin that. I actually think I need to do it to heal me through this cancer. I am going to continue my ongoing treatments and new diet. By mostly, I am going to enjoy every day with my family. I feel blessed that I have the gift of knowing how precious life is. It is unfortunate that it took three battles with cancer to finally get it but I now get it.
I am going to continue to fight and enjoy my stability. I will thank God every day for the blessings he is giving me.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We get ourselves together and I go to check out just to see the entire lobby filled with jewelry artists and buyers in long lines ready to check in. This week in Basel the Worlds Largest Watch and Jewelry Exhibit was starting. The rumor around the Hilton was that many famous designers, Hollywood Stars and world renowned collectors were all checking in on Saturday. We were even told that Paris Hilton called for a suite at the last minute and the Hilton had no rooms to give her. But at this point I could care less who was waiting or checking in I was getting out of there and home to the boys. So I poked my way to the front of the line, pretended that I had no idea what I was doing and was back up to the room to retrieve Mark in 10 minutes. I just kept on saying, "English?" like I had know idea what was going on. He was down at the lobby early and told me that the wait was over an hour. Well our plane was getting ready to go and an hour was not happening.
Check in at the airport was also frustrating because our travel agency booked us the wrong setting and we had to work that all out. So we finally make it from Basel to Germany and load our plane to Phili when I realized we had one of the oldest and most uncomfortable planes still flying. So the tears start flowing and Mark beg me to just stop. I then accepted my fate for the 9 hours in the air and the German Stewards named Helga started passing out drinks. After tempting Mark with two of her strongest bloody mary's by saying, "are you man enough to drink the drink I make?" she managed to spill a whole container of OJ completely down me from head to seat. We had 8 hours and 45 minutes on this plane and another 5 hours of traveling after that so I must say I was not happy. I look at Mark and the worried and panicked look was in his eyes. I have only seen that look a few times and it was usually because of some kind of news with my health. But it defiantly change my attitude. I grab the steward's hand to stop her from touching my areas I did not want to be touched, looked her in the eyes and told her it's okay. She continue to apologized in German and actually looked like she too was going to cry. But at that point I realized in the last 9 months I had been through so much and overcome so much some OJ is nothing. Mark just looked at me and smiled. I know he thought I was going to just deck her or at the least he hoped I would just give her "the sunny tell off smash down" as he calls it. But all I could do was feel bad for her and just laugh. I was completely soaked down to my lacey's with some lovely smelling OJ and all I could do is laugh. The others around me started helping clean up the mess while I stood there and laughed. I will tell you I had more Europeans touching me then the women in the 15th century paintings we had seen a few days earlier in the museum. After getting three blankets to put on the wet set I sat done and Mark said, "I am proud of you, you didn't do a Sunny Nutty on her".
The flight was fine but I must tell you if I don't hear another language for the rest of my life it will be to soon. I know finally know what it is like for a foreigner to come to our beautiful country and not know what the hell everyone around you is saying. I was in pain and sick to my stomach but I got through it. We arrived in Phili only to be stopped and hauled away by a customs police officer walking by me because his battery packed radar machine was going crazy. The radio-active therapy I received in Switzerland sets off all the warnings when going through detectors. This time I was stronger then ever so the custom police pulled me away. I had a note from Dr. Mueller but that was not enough for them. Mark had a look of terror on his face so I was more worried about him having a heartache then I was about anything they could do to me. They did not let him come with me so you can imagine what he was acting like. I was taken in a curtain room and yes searched. First with the magic wand and when that went crazy it was the inevitable. While the female officer lifted my shirt I began to explain my whole story. Within 20 minutes of intense questioning I had all those big gruffy officers in tears. They where so kind to me once they discovered I was not a terrorist and just a mom trying to fight this horrible cancer. The one that pulled me aside, young good looking man in his twenties, began telling me about his mom and how she had just past away a month ago from cancer. He explained that when she was diagnosed she just gave up. He told me how hurt he was that she did not even try to fight it. It then gave me a hug and told me to keep on going for my boys. At that time I knew that the whole day was meant to go the way it went. God knew exactly what He was doing once again.
Our flight from Phili to Pittsburgh was delayed of course. But I was so exhausted and so overwhelmed I did not even begin to care. After several calls from the boys wondering when I was going to be home and how much longer until I can get on the plane we finally boarded to our last destination. It was such a peaceful flight. Mark and I had a whole row to ourselves I feel asleep and awoke to the captain say, "Welcome to Pittsburgh" and the rest is history.
Yesterday I was very sick and in pain but at true peace. Even though I could not make it out of bed I was home and under me I could hear my family rumbling and living. That is all I really needed at that point. I know that everyone is waiting to hear the results but I will save that until tomorrow. We are still working things out and contemplating our next option.
Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support. Thanks mom and my family for watching those wild boys. Thanks for also having them miss me.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Sunny's pain has been constant but not as strong as the last time. Her nauseau has came and went but she has continued to want to go out and do things and not to be cooped up here at Hilton Basel. We went to the zoo today. 36 acres. Actually the perfect size to walk through in 90 minutes and I got to take some more videos while she got some amazing pictures. We learned just a few days ago that this little escape was a mere two train stops away from our hotel here, although in the other direction that we have been accustomed to. So we hopped on the number 8, went past a few Pizzeria's with Take Away service(thats for to-go food not irate customers) another wonderful centuries old church and after a quick two block walk we were in the zoo.
It was actually the cleanest place we have seen so far in Switzerland. No graffiti, no litter, no smoking , and a wonderful soup and salad bar that for some reason Sunny didn't want to try. We went through the Viviarium and saw lots of cool fish, penquins, and alas no real sharks. We got real close to rhino's, a snow leopard, a tiger, pelicans, and flamingo's. We dodged a diving Switz vulture or something which scared the swiss cheese right out of us, we got to see little Swiss children scream and carry on and then listen as their frustrated parents try to get them under control ( apparently the whole Dr. Spock we should just talk to our children and understand why they are beating each other with sticks as they walk by turtles speech may have been a gross mistake in child rearing) and then the coup de grace we got to see the papa boar sneak up from behind and "jump" on the mama boar, like a dog in heat on an unsuspecting leg. We both laughed not because we are immature nature prudes, but because we envisioned what our three boys would have said or done at that special moment in time.
After catching the train back to the main station outside Hilton Basel, we tried to find a place to sit down and enjoy lunch. We walked around the corner to a pizzeria we had spied on the train, only to discover that they close at 2:00 and reopen at 6:00. I must admit , this has been fairly common around here, this 3 or 4 hour siesta time that restaurants take every day. Kind of defeats the purpose of the long lunch or the multi-martini business luncheon....sorry last call guys its almost 2:00....So we went back to a place that is as warm to Sunny's heart as Somma's is to mine...Starbuck's. We had a 40 franc lunch consisting of a bottled water (no gas), two blueberry muffins, a pasta salad, and some kind of ham on bagel sandwich that Sunny actually enjoyed immensely.
We are back resting...Sunny is watching her Jeremy Kyle hour(he's like a cross between Jerry Springer and Oprah with a Benny Hill accent)...and I am waiting for CBS SPORTS .com to be able to watch the basketball on the laptop. It even has real honest to goodness American commercials. By the way the slightly effiminate lad won Paris Hilton's British Best Friend last night in case anyone was wondering. Apparently beat out the aspiring singer and the former stripper. Now you see why I sit in front of a Dell watch a small, fuzzy screen with in and out audio and thank God that technology can let me watch Pitt play tonight at 7:55 PM Basel time.
We are going to head back over to the trainstation in a little bit because Sunny still has a few chutzky's to buy. She is feeling confident and is fresh off a multi-lingual bartering beatdown yesterday afternoon at the MarketPlatz , saving 10 francs on some items at a poor artisan's stand. She is the best. With all of the pain, dizziness , and all, she still goes store to store, finds the best sales and then picks out the gift for those loved ones back home. She is the one with the cancer, and yet I am embarrassed to say I am the one whining about back pain from walking all across town with her trying to keep up to my little shopping Swiss Sunny.
After we hit the station stores, we are going to catch the 11 train to the river so that she can get a picture of the sunset. Its a beautiful scene with all of the old architecture, the church towers, and the reflections off of the water and she'll be damned if she misses it again. So at least I can get her to stop for a beer and sushi or veal sausage wurst or a weenie in a bun or something.
Then we come back to pack. The longest day of the trip is tomorrow. The return back to the states. Philly will never look so beautiful and neither will the Parkway or the tunnells. We miss our boys, we miss our family and friends but we are almost back. Please keep Sunny in your thoughts and prayers especially tomorrow during the travel back home as we will continue to keep all of you in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks to everyone who helped out with Casa de Carney and those crazy boys of ours this week, my mother in law, Colleen, Coach Steve, HOOPS JJ, Judy, and the rest....we couldn't have done this trip without your help.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Where ever the emotions are coming from, I am feeling pretty good considering. The doctors here in Switzerland told me to go back to the hotel and rest for 3 to 5 days. Rest! How can anyone rest when you are sitting in a small hotel room watching reruns of Judge Judy, Riki Lake and Sally. That for me is more stress then rest. I think the doctors, once again, where taken back that we have decided to head home on Saturday as well. They thought that maybe we were rushing things. But I know that I can not rest until I am home with my family and friends. I am in some pain and quite nauseaous but I feel better then I did the first time. I know that once these drugs start going through my body and organs things will get worse, but I also know that I can handle it again. So all and all I am doing fine.
I even managed to take a few hours out and about in the Maket Place. I actually laughed when Mark asked if we could take a rest. I am not sure if he was really tired or just being a little over protective of me and faking it. Whatever the case, I gave him 5 minutes on a bench then tugged him around some more. I bargained a little with some Swiss's vender to bring home some trinkets for the boys and then went into the famous chocolate store. I must tell you that Swiss chocolate is good but outragously expensive and no bargaining allowed in that red carpet store. However I did reach deep down into my pocket and bought some for my angel helpers at home.
I have now hit the wall and don't think I can leave the bed now. But I still feel blessed that 3 months after my orginal doctors 6 month prognosis I am here and feeling pretty good. I am not sure what is in the future but I know that whatever He has for me I am ready. Until tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Its Wednesday evening here at Hilton Basel...and the end of another glorious day(those of you that are down in the dumps for whatever reason today by the way try telling the next five people you talk to or see that ITS A GLORIUS DAY and you will either smile, they will smile, or you may get a funny foo-foo type of stare...but in any case it will brighten your day) as the temps went all the way up to 16 celcius....take that Pittsburgh....you only hit 68 Fahrenheit today....and the sun was out and our Sunny came back here---the hospitaal portion of our European adventure over. She had several more scans done this morning down in the Twilight Zone, and I think its fair to say that the results were mixed. There definitely has been positive news in that nothing has grown (stabilized is how Dr. Doogie put it) but there hasn't been shrinkage like they had ultimately hoped for. She was not asked to come back in 2 to 3 months liked planned but will return again in August for 3rd treatment. We will monitor things back home with bloodwork, CT scan, eventually an Octriotide scan, and as a bonus prize potentially the opportunity to go to Iowa or Nebraska( all I know is its Big 10 or Big 12 country) to visit the states top carcinoid doctor. The kids will be excited , because we can maybe tie in the long awaited tour of baseball stadium's like St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnatti. When you are stuck cheering every year for the Pirates, any baseball will work to distract the kids. I know that she was hoping to explain the results better in Medical terms after she sits the boys down and talks to them.
Speaking of sports I understand that not only are the Penguins on a possible playoff role, but my Pitt Panthers( best 8 years of my life) are a number one seed in the madness of March. I hope they have a long run, not just for selfish reasons but with all of the pain Sunny will be going through when she gets back, it is real nice distraction/break from reality for the boys and I....just like the Steelers run to the Super Bowl when we got back in January. Watching EuroSports Live with extended coverage of some kind of game where they bounce a soft soccer ball, pass to teammates like football, bounce like basketball, hit like rugby, and throw the ball into a soccer like goal, indoors in a hockey rink where Germany was up 22-16 on Denmark I wonder if they have any clue to the therapeutic powers of group sports bandwagon jumping.
Speaking of the tele, Sunny has just finished taking another long shower to ease some of the pain in lower back and liver..and now is sitting behind me entranced with what Judge Judy's verdict will be. I should have taped this episode back in the states, gone down to the executive lounge, bet a few drug-selling Novartis schmucks a few francs and paid for dinner. However, even she couldn't sit through the back to back Ricki Lake and Sally Jesse Rapheal marathon...its no wonder they think Americans are stupid over here because on the tele is that....Paris Hilton's British Best Friend reality series, the head of AIG and our brilliant congressmen arguing over bonuses and suicides on three networks, the Simpson's in German....Nein Bart Nein...and Two and a Half Men in French....although I think Pierre may feel it is about two guys and a midget...
After we checked out around 11:30 this morning (we had to wait for Dr. Doogie to drop off the note giving Sunny permission to trip the security gates) we came back here and then she wanted to go right back out. She is amazing. After several disappointing attempts to find "cool" culture here (the doll museum was interesting , but stuffy, and I felt a bit out of place as everyone else had kids with them or wore dentures except for Sunny and I) I had finally scoped out the musuem of fine art which was hosting a Picasso exhibit , had Van Gogh, had Maltisse, and seemed to be the real deal. It was fantastic. Besides the aforementioned masters and all of their naked bosom, dangling genetelia, group hugs/orgies, there were paintings from the 15th century on and some of the most beautifully preserved nativity , stage of the passions, and Virgin and child art you can imagine. Sunny was a trooper as she went to each of the three floors(we went backwards against the flow of the floors unknowlingly....drawing stupid Americaan stares and extra special observation rom the museum's Barney Fife security team) and when she felt dizzy we would sit and rest. When we saw a bummy....we sit and rest and laugh about what our boys would have to comment on that painting. She made it through in about 2 hours, feeling a little dizzy at times but not wanting to stop at all.
We came back here to Hilton Basel and made a quick change of coats, I put my shorts back on , and we walked a half a block to a new place we stumbled over on the way to the musuem...the Steak House. We were drawn to it because the menu posted outside referred to a Philly Cheesesteak and other US OPTIONS. We were all about US OPTIONS at this point. In we went. Turns the menu had no English, but I know the ingredients in a Philly Cheesesteak, hoped they were universal, and was surprised when Sunny also ordered the same. The place actually had two TVS on, like some kind of pathetic attempt to be a sports pub, but alas...no ESPN, it was cross-country skiing in a city outside of Vienna where they brought snow into the city streets, like Detroit's or Cleveland's old Formula 1 races, and then had an urban ski competition...sorry....nice try klumpters but you are missing the point of sportstelevision altogether...The sandwiches were very good, they tasted like home, but the bottom of the bun was a bit soppy and we had to use knife and fork or risk having another one of those Stupid Americaan with cheese on his sweater" moment...
We made it back here around 4:30 and Sunny was definitely out of it(almost blondworthy Sharon) , a bit woozy, and tired. I made a few calls back home, let her rest for a couple of hours then dove into this. We managed to confirm that the boys will be able to go watch the Steelers-Plum hoop game Thursday night(thanks HOOPS JJ) and we confirmed that they hadn't locked Grandma out or tied her up(thanks boys). We are now one day closer to driving back through those beautiful tunnels, up past that wonderful S and T bank, and into that wonderful cracked, chipping driveway we call home. Can't wait.
Please continue to keep Sunny in your prayers as she is tired, has a fair amount of pain in her back and liver and that she will rest well tonight. We will continue to think about and pray for you back home and look forward to cheering on those mighty Panthers from my own lumpy couch, with the bad-breathed weight challenged dog and all on Sunday afternoon.
I know that so many of you are waiting for the results and I have every intention in going into all the details....just not now. After spending the night at the hospital with no English stations on the telle and finishing every book I brought (thanks Kate Austin for the great book), I had much time to go over and over the results and scenerios in my head. They are complicated and I have decided to come home and sit down in front of six beautiful blue eyes and talk to them first. I want my boys to know everything in simple terms before I go into the medicial jumble. Whatever the results are they are just preliminary and many more scans, a recommendation to a doctor in Iwoa and a few new monthly treatments will follow. Their is hope and I will never give in to this cancer.
I am doing good but very weak and tired so I will leave the blogging to Mark for now (please read below). Thank you all for the amazing care you are giving to my boys. Thank you for the dinners and for all the rides to their activities. Thanks to their teachers for the amazing kindness they are showing them while I am gone. They are doing okay but they have expressed some missing us and worry. But they are just such amazingly strong and resilient boys.
Boys, mom is doing great and much better then last time so no need to worry at all. Enjoy your time with Grandma and stay focused.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Pete went back to Amsterdam but Sunny was able to see him this afternoon before he had to drive back. He suprised her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers(I know , I know ...why didn't I already have flowers there? Lets just say I wasn't going to dare figure out to price that at the COOP after the whole banana incident last trip) both at the hospital and here at the Hilton. What made it a really nice gesture was that they were from his performance Sunday night and as conductor tradition dictates he give them to the best performer at that show....Sunny was real touched and relieved that he "hadn't spent a fortune on them". It was really great to hang out with him while Sunny was out of pocket yesterday.
We really look forward to being back Saturday and as always please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as you are all in ours.
Monday, March 16, 2009
When we got there , nurse Martin was ready to read the menu options....(although the egg quiche thing with plums didnt' go over so well tonight she later confessed) and then Dr Doogie ( whoops I mean Dr. Nicholas) came in and we got the process rolling. They were so efficient in recalling last time she had had excesssive nauseau and they had already ordered the latest superdrug in the war against nauseauous side-effects and would really help. Well lets just say that the superdrug was almost upchucked back onto me when she took it which caused nurse Martin to kid "you have to take it for it to work" and for nurse Pierre to tap-tap-tap nervously in the room behind , as if he would have to clean up her mess.
When she went down to the twilight-zone for the treatment and I had to leave I want to share with you what she told me it was like. Picture an olds James Bond movie where he has to transport some old uranium or a really old GetSmart where 99 has to protect the secret serum and that is what its like. The room is lead lined, the doctor enters a code on the wall and opens a drawer...then another code opens a platinium silver case, and then another one, and then out comes the $20,000 dose or orange radiation in a test tube. Homer Simpson sure would feel at home.
I think she was fine at that point but when Dr. Mueller came in later and told her to expect the same amount of pain and discomfort as last time , that is not what she was hoping to hear. Its been a long day and it has been great to have my friend from Holland here for the next 24 hours...Sunny loved the flowers and the vase that nurse Pierre decontiminated for them. I know that you will all keep in your prayers and we will for you...and if you can remember these three things I know that these are things she has read, she has reflected on, and she lives by. So until I get the opportunity to do this again tomorrow...please keep her in your thoughts and heregoes....
"Let us live with urgency. Let us exploit the opportunity of life. Let us not drift. Let us live intentionally. We must not trifle our lives away."
"Outlook determines outcome and attitude determines action."
"I've never seen a monument erected to a pessimist."
Until we do this again...thanks for all of your support , thoughts, and prayers.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I am now leaving to take a train to the hospital. I will first get a scan to see how the first treatment took. I am sitting here reliving the last treatment just to prepare myself. It wasn't that bad I keep saying. Off I go and I will leave you with Mark for updates.
I am glad she is in better spirits today because yesterday was hard for her. Back pain...fatigue...it seemed like nothing would ease her pain. We are back at our favorite Swiss Hilton, with the main difference being this time we were able to upgrade to the Executive Floor, which actually has smaller rooms, but a great lounge down the hall with complimentary food and beverages. (I think it might have been Sunny's way of keeping me close by when the need for a Jim Beam and Coke Light called). There is actually one less chanel now for us to watch on the tele....they took off our beloved Vintage American movie channel which was kind enough to run the Eastwood/Eddie Murphy marathon last trip....oh well.....at least we still have Judge Judy and Rickie Lake to passby the evenings with.
As I sit in front of the open window and write this(it is a beautiful 60 degrees fahrenheit) I can hear the sirens of a Swiss police car wailing off in the distance like an old Bond movie and with the rustling of the trains going by I am thankful that we have the opportunity to be here again to help Sunny continue her treatments against the Carcinoid Disease. Although we are both more comfortable this time here, I know we both miss being home a hell of a lot of more as well. Maybe its because we have "been there...done that" or maybe its because we know how tough our kids are trying to be back home but this will be an even longer week than last...and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to just getting back. Austen's hoop team lost a tough game yesterday and it hurt knowing he felt bad because I wasn't there to help coach....Logan has two soccer games this weekend and I hope he continues to do well...and Nolan...well I want to thank Nolan and one of his teacher's Janet DeMarco for a special project that Nolan came up with where he handwrote a letter for Sunny to open each day of our trip here...its only Sunday but it has really touched her.
I will have to jump back on this again later today because she is impatiently standing next to me....camera ready...arms folded...ready to go and tackle the museum...
Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours...and until later....Danka Shane(or something like that)