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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recent Updates

Sorry for the delay in posting. I know by the emails I am getting my friends are worried. I've been a little under the weather. I have had some dizzy spells and exhaustion. As many of you know by now I hate to post when I am not at my best. I am also having agonizing headaches that I have not had before. Some might say it's living with Mark, but I have been doing that for over 13 years so I should be use to that noise. Anyways, I had a doctor appointment on Monday with my main oncologist and he ran some test. The blood work showed that my white blood count is low but he still suspects something else is going on. So we are scheduling an MRI to rule out spreading to the brain. I do however have a tumor in the skull (which we knew about since last May) but it is not in the brain as of my last scan in Switzerland. On the good side it could all be caused by the treatment in Switzerland and will eventually go away when the magic drug gets out of my system. I feel very confident that this all just precautionary measures my doctor is taking to rule things out and give me a peace of mind (sorry for the pun).

Meanwhile, my doctor gave me much encouragement on my fight. He told me that 90% of fighting cancer is attitude and to continue my optimism and not give in to the frustration of this prolong disease. He also said that he is very impressed with all my knowledge on this rare cancer and that I am helping so many others who are suffering from carcinoid. He wished all his patients where as upbeat as me. Little did he know that I just got finish lecturing the nurse practitioner that was in the room 20 minutes before for not reading my chart before questioning me about my cancer and for not having anyone call me back when I got home from Switzerland and needed some prescriptions. After all I called for 3 days twice a day and finally after the last call and telling the operator that I will not leave a message but hold for person that could help, did I get what I needed. Little did he know that I told his assistant that I am tired of going over and over again all the ins and outs of this rare cancer with those who are suppose to be treating me and that I need them to be the advocates now because I am just worn out. Little did he know that I burst into tears just a few minutes before he enter the room because I was sick of telling all those who are treating me what test I need and what drugs I should be on which I find from doing hours of research. Little did he know that a was going to the "dark side" and had a quick thought of giving up. Maybe he did know about all this and was just being my cheerleader. Whatever the case, I wiped my tears, stopped feeling sorry for myself and took more action to help me feel better. So if he was playing mind games they worked. That's why he is a good doctor and has an excellent reputation. I have the confidence with him on my side.

However, I did come home and follow up with my referral in Iowa. I am scheduled for my first appointment with him on June 24th. By then I will have all the scans ran to see if the treatment in Switzerland is doing it's thing. He can then direct me better as to which way to go depending on the outcome of those scans. His office wanted to see me sooner but I thought that if I had all the information gathered it would save us some money and the number of trips we need to take. Although I love the two oncologist I have here in Pittsburgh, I am looking forward to talking with the expert. From what I am told this doctor has dedicated his life to carcinoid cancer and endocrine cancers. I feel so blessed that I can actually get in to see him. I must say I would probably bet done his door if I could not get an appointment. But no need for that.

That is all my updates. Once again I wish I could tell you that I finally woke up from this nightmare and live in castle with many servants, angel for children and half dressed men feeding me grapes. If anyone wants to shake me when they see me just to try to help give it a try. My next blog will be more inspirational.