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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Walk into the Sun!

If you walk towards the Sun the shadows always follow!

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 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!