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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Middle Child

As promised I am continuing my post about my children and how we help them through this cancer journey. I re-posted my April 8th post below so it can bring you all back. As stated earlier in my blog it is so hard for me to write about them. But I am hoping it helps other moms who are suffering from cancer too. It is now my Logan's turn. My middle child and most complex of the three.

My middle son, Logan, is probably the hardest of the three to write about. I think it is because Mark being the oldest and me being the youngest of our families we have trouble relating to what he is going through being the middle of three boys. I must say he is absolutely amazing yet very complex. He is incredibly intelligent and analytical. However, that makes his mind wonder and assume to much. He is a thinker to a fault at times. I am at awe at some of the questions he asks and of course I can not always answer. Logan is completely different from Austen. He hates competing with his brothers, especially Austen. We think that is why he plays the only sport, soccer, that his brothers don't play. This year he decided to not play baseball or basketball (which I must say he was pretty good at) and focus just on soccer. A few seasons ago Austen decided not to play soccer anymore so I believe that gave Logan the freedom to call it "his sport". He likes to be different and not conform to what society says he should be like. He does not care what anyone thinks about him. If he likes something then no one will change that. He loves buildings, bridges, dams and anything built by man. That is why he inspires to be a architect.

Logan is extremely compassionate for others. He wears his heart on his sleeve and will go the extra mile to help anyone. He has had this quality as far back as a toddler. I always tell him he would be an amazing doctor because he is so kind when others are in need. He is the first to check on me when I am having a "sick day" and will get whatever I need. He is a caregiver in so many ways. However, it is a quality that some don't see because Logan is very opinionated. He is always fighting for what is fare and right even when it does not involve him. Which sometimes can get him in trouble. He likes to stick up for the underdog and actually befriends anyone who is in need. I can remember one summer when he was about 7. A woman at our community pool with her three very small children came up to Logan, handed him a huge wrapped gift and said thank you. I was in shock and asked her what that was for. She told me that the day before some older children where picking on her son, who we did not know, and taking his pool toys. Logan got so angry at the older kids that he went right up to them, grab the toys from them and told them off. He then gave all the toys back to the little boy, who was crying, and walked away. I was not surprised at all. Logan has always been a fighter, no matter what sizes his opponent is, if he is passionate about what he is fighting for. I sometimes tell him to stay out of things and walk away, especially after a visit to his principals office. But he can not let things go if he feels it is not right. I see him with protest sign in Washington DC someday.

These qualities make Logan the sensitive child he is today. That is why my cancer has been especially hard on him. He could not hold things in like Austen can. He has to let it all out. The problem is he does not want me to know that he is scared or sad so it frustrates him. He is very emotional but tries so hard not to be because he does not want to bother me. At night is when he does most of his thinking, which causes him to have trouble falling asleep. His mind just wonders and wonders about all kind of things. We joke with him and call him Eeyore because he is always asking "what if?" questions. That is why I let him write a post on this blog called "Wealth over Health" on March 1st. It gave him a chance to clear his mind. I know that it works for me I thought it would help him. Even as an infant Logan has been most attached to me. I sometimes wish he would get closer to Mark and not need me so much. I think that would make this journey a lot easier on him.

He claims he hates having an older brother but deep down I think he really looks up to Austen. A few days after I was diagnosed I walked by his room and heard Austen talking to him. It was one of those breathtaking moments. Austen was telling him not to worry about Mom, stay tough, and don't let her see you upset because stress is not good for her. I heard them both sniffling and cracking voices. Austen then told Logan if you want to get upset come see me and I will help you get through it. He then told Logan that he will take care of him and Nolan. They then must of heard me outside the door and starting arguing over a video game. But for about 2 minutes they were brothers.

Mark and I are trying really hard to show Logan the good in Mom's cancer. We teach him to be thankful for everyday and not take life for granted. When I hear him say something negative I tell him that today is to be a "Tigger day not an Eeyore day". He has even began saying that, after he says something not so positive, "Sorry mom that's an Eeyore statement not a Tigger statement". I give him the opportunity now to tell me what he is thinking and I reinforce to him no matter how sick I am I will always be here to listen to him. I tell him that is a mom's job and by him holding things in I can not do my job. I gave him a few notebooks and told him to write all his thoughts. It is only for his eyes unless he wants me or dad to read it. He loves doing that because he loves to write. It's been a great release for him, however he has not shared any with me yet. Mark and I try to spend a little more one on one with him. Even if it's just playing a video game with him for an hour or so. Although, I got really good at Fifa '09 and he now want play that with me anymore. He loves to read like me so I thought he and I would do a book club together. We would each read the same book at the same time and then once a week talk about it. He is a drummer and takes drum lessons with a great teacher. So I let him teach me what he learned every week. That way he feels some control over me.

He is still a work in progress. Every now and then Mark and I think of something more to help him get through this time. We are no experts on handling a middle child dealing with his mother having stage 4 cancer but we are learning as we go. We take one day at time and try to handle each situation that arises. I have seen a marvelous change in Logan though. He is happy and is express himself in a more positive way. He has not perfected the mind of matter way yet but it is coming. I see great things for Logan in his future.

Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. ~Epictetus

I know we have a lot to learn but I think we are doing okay with Logan. I hope I can instruct him to live a happy life long after I am gone.


Logan is a work in progress so I will continue posting about him. Maybe it's time for him to write a post too.