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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sunshine State

I know, I know I owe Nolan a blog. I am sitting here in Penera's at 6:30 am and I don't want the tears to flow. So I will wait until I can get up the courage to post about my sweet child.

I've been waking up the past few mornings around 5:30 am to go out on the beach and photograph the sunrise. It's something I've never had the desire to do before but now I don't want to waste any minute. I want to say I've photographed a sunrise at every east coast beach I've been. Crazy I know, but I feel great after I see the beauty God has given us. It just reminds me that anything is possible in Him. I can not believe all these years that I have been visiting my mom in FL and I never got my lazy butt out of bed to see this amazing sight. It's just one more good thing I slept through. Last night at dinner I tried to convince my mom, Mark and the boys what an awe it is to see and to come with me this morning. They looked at me like I was insane. Of course I got the lecture from Mark that I need my sleep and I cannot get better if I don't get my rest. I don't think he get's that I don't have a flu bug,...."I have an incurable cancer buddy....I can sleep when I am dead". After that comment I got that pissed off look that he get's when he knows he cannot win an agrument with me. I am not sure if it's his worring or that fact that he knows he cannot get up and does not want to feel a little guilty that I am doing this alone. Whatever the case it's his lost and he does not know what he is missing. Yesterday I even spotted some dolphins. This morning I did actually recruit Nolan to come along (of course I bribed him with breakfast out after....he'll do anything for food). I should of tried that with Mark. I am not sure which one he values more food or sleep but I know that choice would be to stressful for him while on vacation.

Anyways I know many are thinking what the hell is she doing taking her boys out of school, packing the car and just going to FL when her blood counts are low and the doctor recommends staying in bed (sorry for the runon). No planning or anything - just going. I know I don't owe anyone an explanation but I feel I need to give one anyway. Have you ever just felt the need to do something and you just can not wait to do later? It may be something as small as giving into the carving of a food you should not have or as crazy as buying a new home. That is what I was feeling. I just need to go to a place with my family that we have always had happy memories. Where the boys learned to walk, swim and surf. Where Mark and I spend nights out on the beach. Where the sun comes up everyday and warms our face. And where the cancer is not known. After all the treatments and pressure I just needed to be alone with my family. Was it the most responsible thing to do? Absolutely not. But I have been responsible all my life - not just for me but also for Mark and the boys. I needed to just give into my craving of the one place that has always been my refuge. That is Vero Beach FL.

The kids call this place Zero Beach. They say because there is nothing to do past 7pm. Everything closes expect the beach. I think they have read 3 full books each and we have only been here for a few days. They spent some time with my brother and his family. They surfed, boogie board and skim board. They have swam until wee hours. Most importantly they have spent time with just me. Mark has spent his time in the ocean with the boys and working on his new job. Afterall he has the best boss he could ever ask for. As long as he preforms in his job life is good.

I know when I get back my full time job as a carcinoid cancer patient and photographer is coming again. But for now I am just a mom living in paradise. When my father bought his dream home here he said it was for the whole family. At that time I was getting married and working on my career - the last thing I could think about was going to FL. Since I have had the boys we try to come down at least twice a year, when they were small is was sometimes more. It wonders me how much he was preparing us for hard times. He knew that we would all need a place to escape from our worries now and then, WE just did not know it. Unfortunately he died a few years later, here in Vero, and never got to see how much my boys love this place. I think about him every day I am here because I know that as a 65 year old man he was being a father when he decided to buy this place. He knew that all his children will need a place to run to when life got tough, regroup and go back fighting. I think that each and everyone of us have done that a few times in the past 15 years. In fact right after my rediagnoses the first thing my siblings said to me was, "you need to go away to FL....figure things out and then make decisions". I did not do that because I just want to get on with treatment and get better fast. But know a year later reality set in and I needed to regroup. I know now that getting better fast is not going to happen.

I spoke with a new doctor yesterday and unfortunately the news was not as promising as I hoped. I wanted him to tell me that he had the magic pill and I would be cured as soon as I take it. I guess that's the optimist in me. He was my one hope I've been holding on to. Well, it was not the case and I must say I was glad I was in this beautiful place when I got the news. I was glad I had my boys to hug and a beach to hit. Of course, that speeds up my plans a little but it does not give up my fight.

It is storming now - one of those FL storms that if back home the dish and lights would be out. I know Mark is passing back at the house so I better complete this later. Oops there my cell ringing now....He is on the hunt for me.

Until Later,