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 24, 2009

My Sweet Child!

As promised I am finally alone and ready to post my entry about my sweet baby. I re-posted the previous blogs about Austen and Logan below just to keep everyone up to speed. Nolan was my most difficult post. He is just as amazing as his brothers, but like them he is totally different too. I have started this post many times but when I would get deep into it it I just had to stop, it was just too emotional for me. I am not sure if it's because Nolan is my baby and I know that because of this cancer I will never have anymore children. Or it maybe because Nolan is the one child that feels the most and express his feelings. It maybe that he is the youngest of the three and would be more effected when the time will come. Or it could be because Nolan is my inspiration when I start to go to the dark side. Whatever the case, he is a true blessing to our family.

What can I say about my sweet child? Nolan was our happy surprise. Austen was a little over a year and Logan was about 4 months old when I found out I was pregnant with Nolan. My father had just passed away, Mark was traveling with job and working long hours, he just bought his dream car (red convertible, not sure of the make but back then I did not know much, but no room for three car seats) that he worked so hard for and I was going on about 2 hours a sleep a night because neither boys would sleep. I was in complete shock when the test said positive. After all I was told I was not every going to be able to have children and here I am in a little over a year with two babies and one on the way. I actual waited a few months before I told anyone because I was embarrassed that I had two small babies and another on the way. I remember yelling at Mark, "about not planning anything". Then Nolan was born and he was another boy. I had a horrified feeling about leaving the hospital and entering a life of diapers and bottles. I was scared to death to go home to three boys under 25 months. And as expected, I walked into a house and all three started to cry at once and Nolan never stopped (he had colic). I then blinked and a year went by and I can not recall any of it.

I am so ashamed of my thoughts back then. I did not trust that God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us Nolan at the time he did. Nolan is our family peacemaker. He evens out the strong personalities we all have trapped between bricks and mooter. He is the first one up every morning (well after me because we all know I am up before the sun) and never comes out of his room without a smile on his face. He lives each day to the fullest and always sees the bright side of life. He hates conflict and will do what ever it takes to end an argument. I think some times he has more sense then even Mark and I because when we get in our little debates with each other Nolan reminds us how silly we are being.

He is such a kind soul and always puts others needs in front of his own. When I am under the weather Nolan is the first one to slide a hand made card or message under my bedroom door to cheer me up. He hates to see me in discomfort and will sit in bed with me for hours until I start to feel better. He loves to write me letters and reminds me not to give up. When asked by others how he is doing with mom being sick, he always shoots back a confident "she will get better soon". He does however get emotional at times when he thinks about what could happen. My trips to Switzerland were especially hard for him and he really missed both Mark and me. After the first trip I think it accrued him that this was not a vacation for mommy and he realized that it was very serious. So the next trip he spent weeks preparing a surprise for me. Each day he had something for Mark to give me and it had to be given in a special way. For example on St. Patrick's day I was in the hospital yet I received a beautiful card and a hand written poem about Ireland. My last day at the hotel I was given a CD he recorded with some songs he played for me on his guitar. I had a handmade gift everyday from him and I had to email him an answer to a question that he would ask me in a card or letter that went with the gift. I think that's how he guaranteed that Mark did not forget to give it to me.

Nolan is also very witty. He says the funniest and most whimsical things just at the perfect times. He could have all four of us in stitches for hours. None of it is in mean spirited though. We can all count on Nolan to bring us up at bad times. It's one of the things I love about him the most. He is a true joy to be around. This is just what we need in our journey through this horrible disease.

He is so kind and giving to others. I sometimes ask myself how a ten year old boy knows just what to do to help someone else? It's like he can actual feel the pain others are feeling. This gift of altruism amazes me every time he shows it. I only wish others in this world had half of what Nolan has in his heart for giving.

Although, like his brothers Nolan loves to play sports his true love is for music. He loves to jam (as he calls it) on his guitar and write songs. You will catch him many times throughout the day just humming along to life. His passion for music has actually inspired both his brothers to take up instruments and Nolan will lead the two in a jam session. I never have to bribe Nolan to practice. I don't know if that is because of his passion for music or because he is just a pleaser. He loves to please and rarely has to be asked twice to do something. One trait that makes being his mom easy.

Although the all mentioned may seem that Nolan is just plugging along with a cheery outlook of life and nothing can get him down, that is not always the case. He is the most optimist child I know but deep down I know he is scared to death. He tries hard not to let me see his worry but as a mother I can see that my cancer has an affect on him. Even as a baby Nolan was always my child that I could count on for a surprised hug at any time. I could just walk into the room were he would be engrossed in playing with his brother and he would be the first one to jump up and just wrap his arms around me. It is still the same but his hugs are just a little more gentle and are held a little longer. They are hugs of compassion instead of just fun. They are comforting hugs that he gives me to let me know he is here for me. There are times when I actually seek Nolan out just to get one of those unique hugs.

I have also seen Nolan's faith in the Lord grow tremendously since the cancer has come back. He truly puts all his fears on God. I love to quietly stand outside his room before bed and just listen to him pray. It is so deep for a ten year old. He is not asking for a new bike or a video game. He is asking for a cure for mommy, or to help his brothers, or to feed those who don't have food, or give homes to those who live in the streets. It is praying for others not for his own needs. I think he actual gets what some adults cannot wrap their minds around. He understands that life is not about him but about all of us together. I remember a few years ago when his godmother was very ill. He would prayed day and night for her to get better. Eventually she passed away at age 35. Nolan was just in complete peace and understanding. I thought he would be devastated but instead he wiped my tears and said that God needed her. Never once asked why or how come his prays where not answered. He understood and comforted me. Astonishing is all I can say.

After reading this post I am sure you can understand why Nolan was so difficult to write about. I could go on and on but it is just to emotional for me. My heart aches that a child of ten with such a great outlook on life has to see his mom fight for her life. I can only pray, maybe along with him, that he stays as precious as he is today, forever.