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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We are Back!

After 22 hours of traveling we are finally home. I must say I feel like I've been through a tough battle, but the war is not over. It was a difficult day of traveling. First and foremost, I woke up Saturday feeling like I had one of those college hangovers that I so don't want to relive. The one where you take one foot and place it on the ground from the bed to make the room stop spinning. The thing that is so devastating about that feeling is that I did not even get to enjoy the party from the night before. I could barely get out of the hard Hilton cot (that's what Americans refer to as luxury bed in Europe) and as soon as I did the room was spinning again. The pain was immense and the vomiting began. I manage to hit Mark awake to tell him I was going to the lounge to try to put something in my stomach and take those amazing Swiss pills that they hospital gave me that will make me a new woman and ready to travel. So the day began with a bang.

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.