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, May 17, 2009

Back to Reality

Well the Carney Clan is home and ready to get back to the real life. After a 20 hour car ride to FL and a 17 hour car ride home ( don't ask about the three hour difference) we have survived each others love. Many friends think that Mark and I are absolutely nuts for driving to FL with three kids let alone doing it in one day. I must say the first time we did it, when the boys were small, Mark thought we were crazy. The trips before our first driving experiences we would fly and sometimes I would fly with the three boys myself. After hours of stress getting to the airport, 2 hours of screaming babies on the plane, standing in the rental car line and hoping we get the only mini-van left, and driving from the closest airport to Vero Beach it was more then 17 hours....not to mention the expense. So a few years back I talked Mark into doing the driving thing and he was pleasantly surprised how relaxing it actually can be. We have done the flying thing too with the family but driving is so much more educational, memorable, and bonding.

Driving was the only way I knew before I met Mark. As a little girl my father loved to take us on vacations. We did not have much money and we did have many kids but it never stop him from giving us the experiences that he thought we deserved. We would all pack up - swimsuit, sandals, two t-shirts and 2 pairs of shorts - pile in the car and off to FL we would go. There was no stopping at restaurants on the way, Mom would pack Kool-aide, fruit and peanut butter sandwiches, we only ate at rest areas out of the trunk of the car. We would stay at a great aunts home and all slept on the floor. We never brought home store bought souvenirs.... seashells from the beach and a baby food jar full of sand was our big gift. One night out of the week or two we would be there our Aunt would treat us to a dinner at a "real restaurant" and GOD Help us if we did not eat every bit on our plate and use the manners we were so diligently taught by our mother. We never augured....a least not out loud. We would sometimes give each other some sign language or wait until we got alone and give a pinch or tug to the sibling that deserved it, but never let our parents see it. We would spend morning to night at the beach sharing the couple of blow up rafts and sand buckets my father would splurge for once we got there if we were quiet the whole 2 to 3 day trip down. If we did stay in a hotel we never told them how many kids were really in the room. We were never aloud to walk the halls all together because they may guess there was more then a couple of us. That was our vacation and it was amazing.

As a college graduate and a middle income woman I never wanted that type of vacation for my kids. Actually I never knew that I really wanted that type of vacation for my kids. My father loved the finer things in life and with his career he had it all offered to him but when it came to his children all he wanted was being together. He had many opportunities to travel with his job but it would be just him and my mother. Those trips were not ones where he could focus on his family so we would stay home with Grandma. As we got older and my fathers career progressed our vacations got a little more quaint but always a car ride was included. I think that was my parents time to trap us all together and force us to get along.

Although, the boys are not forced to eat out of the trunk of the car, sleep on the floor or even sit next to each other in the three row SUV we have, the concept of being together is the same. We enjoy each others company and yes we are forced to even communicate. The boys are now enjoying some of our CDs like U2, journey, Alman Brothers, Greatful Dead etc., and even singing along. Something they would not dare to do in our neighborhood for fear that someone may recognizes them having fun in the car with their parents. The only stress we have is Mark trying to bet my other family members driving time. The bathroom breaks are no more then 10 minutes and the food is all drive thru (only if there is no line). I of course force him to stop at only respectable places to use the facilities because I am about done with squatting in the woods.

I know that the actual vacation will be great memories for the boys. The beach, the surfing, the boogie boarding, the board game competitions and even the new nickname I earned this trip (I am now know as the Diva of the family because of my outburst at the beach because the boys would not settle down enough to do a full fledged photo shot for me....I really wanted that perfect family portrait) will all be in their mind forever. But the ride to and from will be lasting. Every time I drive to FL since my dad passed I feel this familiarity and comfort. That is what I want for my boys. Of course I have no plans on going anywhere soon but I want my boys to have these memories.

On a different subject, I finished Michael J Fox's new book "The Incurable Optimist". Although I respect him, his journey with his disease and am amazed at what he has done for Parkinson's research, I must say I was quite disappointed in his definition of optimism. I read the book from cover to cover even highlighting certain passages that I thought were inspirational. I have to say he really does not seem as optimistic as he thinks he is. First and foremost, I was quite disturb at his non belief in God's power. He claims he believes that their is a higher power but does not believe He is in control. Secondly, his political views are a little narrow minded. The stemcell research he is fighting for has no limits. Lastly, I had to go back through the book and count how many times he actually spoke about being optimistic and I was able to use one hand.

I admire his great bonds of he gives everyday to be a activist, a father, a husband and a Parkinson's patient. Daily he withstands huge obstacles just to get out of bed. I also admire his will to live and to find a cure for others suffering. His strength and resilience are enormous. His passion to live each day for his family is familiar. I question his anger that he has about having an incurable disease and his lack of faith in our Lord. I feel that if he let go of all his anger and put his trust in God he will live a more peaceful life.

This is just my opinion as promised. Take it or leave it.