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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Austen Gets It!

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

Sunday was Austen's last tournament baseball game and I must say he was very sad. Unfortunately, this was not a winning season. For a 12 year old boy who lives and dies sports winning is everything and losing is not an option. As I wrote in my post about Austen on May 22nd, he is extremely intense when it comes to his being his number one. There have been times when he has got into the car to drive home after a game and he will recount every play of the game to try to figure out why they did not win. He would practice every hour of everyday if we did not redirect him to other things. He begs his brothers to practice with him but they have learned that just leads to him smacking the ball out of the yard into the woods and them chasing after it. They will play for a while and then just walk away as he tries to bribe them into staying. On evenings in the summer you can find Austen, his brothers and the neighbor kids all gathered on the street while Austen tries to convince them to play his sport of choice that evening. All of them knowing that Austen will take over the game. At times I actually worry that maybe he is to intense and needs to take a break. In fact some of his punishments for picking on his brothers or possible not finish a chore has been a day without sports. Where other parents are taking away privileges like television, video games or leaving the home, we are taking away his sports privileges. Sounds strange but he straightens up real fast.

As much as he loves his sports is as hard as he is on himself. So Sunday when he lost his last game in his mothers old neighbor of Greenfield where actually he played against some of his old friends he was quite distraught to say the least. When I got in the car to go home after the lost I heard some sniffling coming from the back seat. When I started to lecture him about it's not always about winning (knowing I really deep down don't believe that, but that is what a mother should say) and with all our family is going through you need to think of what is important, he stopped me dead in my tracks. And in his "mom you don't know anything voice" he said, "It not the losing thing anymore mom, it's the escape I got from you being sick that I will miss". He added that going to baseball even just batting practice made him feel like we were a normal family without cancer. He explained to me that he loved seeing me taking pictures at his game and cheering him on. He told me that is why every home run he hit this season the ball went to me and that was the way he could make me smile. He also said that he will miss playing baseball with his friends and he hates that the game is over until next season.

He continue on to say that he knows that every time he loses it makes him stronger. He even went as far as comparing it to my journey by saying, "like mom when you have to try a new treatment it may not work but you keep trying something else." I started to cry silently like I do, but the tears just started rolling. Of course the teenage Austen that has appeared in our family a few months ago came back and he made it quite known that I should stop crying before dad gets in the car. He also told me that I am so sensitive. I knew that meant he was done talking about his feelings and I wiped the tears away quickly.

The whole conversation took less then 5 minutes but it made me realizes that he finally gets why I am doing all I can do. There are times when I start to feel bad for my boys. They have not asked nor do they deserve to have a mom with a cancer that is incurable. It is not fare that they have to wait for a baseball game to feel that they have a normal life. Although, I try to hide the pain and sickness that I get from the disease progressing it is inevitable that my boys will see some of my suffering. It saddens me at times that they actually look for days that mom is feeling good so that they can have fun with me. But when I look back at moments like this one in the car I truly appreciate what this cancer has taught my family. It proves that your struggles develop your strengths. And when you go through adversities without giving into them, that is strength. That strength that you get going through those hard times will lead you to being a winner one day. I may not win against this cancer, but I will know that my boys have won from my battle. They have learned that regardless of how you feel inside or how close you are to losing, always try to look like a winner with your appearance and attitude. Even if it looks hopeless, with faith and confidence you can have a victory. It might not be at a game, but it will be at life.

Austen has won so much more then some dust collecting trophies this past season. He has won friendships that will last a lifetime. The Carney family knows first hand how important that is this time in our lives. He has won endurance to not quit when it looks like the end results are not in your favor. Much like the endurance that is needed to fight this cancer. He has won the knowledge that winning does not always mean the score at the end of a game, but the lessons you have learned from losing. He has won by learning that winning is not everything, but the will to win is everything. Mostly, he has won the faith to keep trying and believing that a true winner is one that does not quit.

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender that is strength.


P.S. Don't forget to register for the wiffle ball game. Time is running out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Love Is In The Air

Mark and I celebrated another year of marriage this week. To all of Mark's credit it was almost as amazing as our wedding 14 years ago. He and one of his friends from childhood (whom was a groomsman in our wedding) planned the whole day and evening. This post is just to relive it again.

Because of our children's sports schedule we decided to celebrate a day earlier. I think that is what started it out so special. Mark actually pre-thought about the day and decided that he could not postpone it until we get time, which in the past has meant a bottle of wine a week or two after July 22nd sipped quickly after the boys went to bed. Maybe if I am lucky we would put in the wedding day video and we would actually watch the whole thing through, without fast forwarding, before we fall asleep on the couch. Not this year though. Mark did it all. I'll I had to do was give him the best night to go out. However, even that was difficult because in between treatments,being ill from the treatments and sporting events there was really no perfect time. So we just forced ourselves to cancel everything and just do it.

The day started with a amazing bouquet of roses. Not just any roses but the exact type of rose that I had in my wedding bouquet. These are wild roses that have to be ordered six months in advanced because they have to be cultivated to blume in July instead of May (so I guess that would cancel out the wild part). I had these roses in my yard as a child growing up and when I was planning my wedding had to have them in my arrangements. They are blush to a very pale pink, almost white, in color with a yellow center and are the most fragrant of the roses. Not to mention the most delicate and I am told are not the most ideal for floral arrangements because of how fragile they are. In fact I remember hunting for a florist when planning my wedding that could actually find these roses. Over the years Mark has tried to replicate these roses with several attempts on past anniversaries or when he has just screwed up. I have never told him that it just could not be done without pre-ordering the rose months in advance until a few months ago when we were in Switzerland. In Switzerland when we had so much time on our hands and the tele only had two English speaking station we talked about everything and anything and these roses and how difficult they are to find came up. He was amazed that after all these years of receiving bouquets of pale pink roses and hundreds of dollars spent on these arrangements, I never told him he did not get it right nor did I ever expect him too. Well he finally got it right and that was really all I needed to make it a perfect anniversary.

Nevertheless, he did not stop there. A dear friend of our, John Cinq., and Mark planned a spectacular evening with dinner at Zao cafe, Cinq's restaurant, and opening night theater tickets to Barry Manilow's Copacabana The Musical. The dinner was outstanding. When we got to the restaurant Cinq had two glasses of champagne with raspberry puree,my favorite, waiting for us and an amazing meal was served. We then had a special dessert of both Mark's and my favorites, chocolate ganche mouse and lavender cheesecake. The desert plate had Happy Anniversary Sunny and Mark written in chocolate. The Musical was great but the company was better.

We skipped out early on the musical, because we were not sure how long we had until the boys would be calling us to come home, and heading out on the town. We had a blast together. Laughing like BC (before cancer). It was truly like old times when money was not an issue and the theater and dinner was a great date. The most important part of the evening however was the time we spent just talking. Mark finally opened up to me about what it's been like for him during my battle. Although we talk about it at times we never get into the true and actual feelings. The one and maybe the only thing that makes Mark and I alike is that we both suppress our negative feelings. I have always felt that it is harder on those who love a cancer patient then it is for the actual patient. I cannot by any means pretend to know what Mark is going through nor do I even want to walk in his shoes for a day, but I can imagine at times it is a helpless feeling. As a patient fighting this cancer I can pretty much take control of almost all of it. Sure I can't change the progression of the disease but if I am in pain I can take a pill, if I have a question I can call the doctor, if I am tired I rest, if I am restless I exercise. I know that eating right and taking vitamins may help, so I do that. I can choose to have treatments or not. And when the time comes for it all to end I can leave this all behind me and no that I did whatever I could to stay alive. With that I can rest in peace.

For Mark it is not that easy. Although I do not always agree with the chooses he makes when handling the stress of this difficult voyage, I do try to understand what he is going through. I receive emails from many spouses of patients with carcinoid cancer. Some are commenting on my treatments, some ask my advise, some want to know where I get my information from, some just ask how I am doing, some say they read my blogs to their other half and others ask how my husband is dealing with me being sick. Although every email has a different story or topic they all have a certain tone of sorrow and helplessness to it. Much like Mark has at times. For those of you who know my loud fun loving husband it may seem hard to believe that he could ever feel dispirited or powerless. But that is what cancer can do to a man when he watches his wife battle this monster on her own. It is a demon that can take a perfectly stable family and tear it apart. It is a malignant spirit that can take a strong happy go lucky man and bring him to tears at the site of his wife suffering in pain. It is a brutal beast that can destroy a happy spirit and turn it the dark side. Cancer in my eyes is as evil as the devil. I wont speak for Mark but I will testify I will not let it tear me or my love ones apart. I will not let them give in to it's affiliation.

Of course we both did not want the evening to end because it meant we had to go back navigating our cancer journey. However, we knew that it was just a fantasy night and reality was through the red door of our home. And as we open it and enter a house of sleeping boys we held hands and felt grateful we had one more night together. Thanks Mark for your romantic side.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The treatment

On Thursday I had my first treatment to help with the bone tumors. I am told by my doctors that these treatments will not shrink the tumors but will help with the pain that I am having. However, the doctor who administrated the treatment said that he has never given this treatment to a patient with carcinoid cancer so who knows what the results will be. It could be the new miracle. I am glad to be the test rat. When I went to the nuclear treatment center to receive my treatment I felt like I was the periodical son coming home. The techs that work their are the same techs that give me all my scans. They are amazingly knowledgeable about cancer and the nuclear treatments. Of course they cannot recommend any treatments but I love to pump them for information on what they have seen. So after sitting in tubes for hours and hours and talking with them while they scan me I consider them part of my cancer family. Whenever I stop and think how many fabulous people I have gotten to know through this cancer I am in awe. Once again, "The Good In Cancer". In fact I joke with them because their are a few single buff men that I would love to fix up with some of my single girlfriends. They revealed to me this last time that they've known my story the whole time I've been going to this department because they have read all the articles that have been written about me. Some even said they follow my blog. They have mentioned within the last year the scan (octreotide scan) to detect carcinoid cancer has been increasingly order and that some patients have even mentioned my blog to them. So my voice is finally spreading. I am always surprised what God can do when you believe.

The doctors have warned me that before the pain gets better it possibly will increase for a few weeks after the treatment. Also, another side affect is a decrease in my white and red blood counts which are already below normal levels. So I prepared myself for a few weeks of being under the weather. I am happy to report as of today I am feeling pretty good. The pain has increased and is really bad at night, but tolerable. I am exhausted which is probably because the blood counts dropping and a little sick to the stomach. But I am functioning and able to be a mom to the boys. What more can I ask for then to be that?

After my counts are monitored and reach a level of normalcy I will start the new clinical trail drug. The one I mentioned cost more then some make in a year. That is one thing I would love to change. I am hoping in mid August. Then we will see what the scans tell us and depending on that we will prepare for trip 3 to Switzerland. So we are looking and hoping for a fall trip. But it is all subject to change.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Opinion 2

Yesterday I meet with my main Oncologist Dr. Freidland to discuss the findings and treatment plan from Dr. O'Dorisio in Iowa. I must say I am completely wiped out and frustrated with the time I am spending on this cancer and the time I am losing with my boys. Austen spent the day with a friend so we brought Logan and Nolan with us. They were not loving that fact that they had to come but they don't mind Hillman as much because they have roaming computers with Internet access in the waiting room. To me that just means prepare to wait. The boys stayed in the waiting room while Mark and I saw the doctor and after a 2 hour wait to just get in the examining room, I could care less what they destroyed or how they acting while unattended. Normally I would give the boys the 10 minute lecture of how they should behave and then have them repeat it all back to me to make sure that they understood every single word. But yesterday I was so mad at this cancer and then the 2 hour wait, that I just let the "Carney Crazies" loose. I must say though it did not work because they were little angels. Maybe that's my new discipline plan.....say and do nothing. We had planned to take them to a special place after my 2:00 appointment so that they could have a good day. But the 2:00 appointment turned into a 4:30 appointment and we did not get out of there until 5:15 only to rush home to make a 6:00 baseball practice. So I will say another day lost to cancer.

Anyhow, once Dr. Friedland came into the room I was so prepared to just give him a "Sunny Smackdown", as Mark refers to the actions I take when I am really pissed off, about the way the office is run and the time I am wasting with my boys, but he makes that impossible. He is amazingly kind and so caring about my cancer. He is a general oncologist that sees every type of cancer so it always astonishes me that he is so up to date on the newest treatments for carcinoid. Of course I try to stump him by bringing him a folder full of new meds I've read and researched about, new clinical trails or a group of new questions but once again he was on his game. He spent over 45 minutes with me going over every scan, X-Ray, treatment options and how I am feeling. I always forget how long he spends with me and should realizes that is why I wait so long. I am sure he does that with each of his patients. Then he gives me the pep talk about not giving up. So it makes the wait worth it but nothing is worth missing time with the boys.

So to sum this up, he to agrees that the surgery should not be an option at this point. He explains that I need to focus on treatments and having a surgery right will postpone treatments that I need. He did not rule out the surgery in the near future but as of now he wants to focus on the other treatments. However, he agrees with all other treatment plans that Dr. O'Dorisio suggested. So tomorrow I go back to Hillman and receive my first treatment for my bone tumors. I was told that I will feel lousy for a few days to a week but after that I should get use to it. This treatment most likely will not shrink the tumors in my bones but will help with the pain and possibly slow down the growth. Then a few weeks after that I start the magic drug with the outrageous cost. Then we plan for round 3 in Switzerland.

I am still going to follow up with one more doctor about the surgery options. I have to make sure I am doing everything right. I respect all three of the physician and their dedication to Carcinoid Cancer and me. But they are not the ones who are going to raise my boys if I make the wrong decision about my care. So next week I will contact Dr. O'do and let him know what my doctors' opinions. Then I may contact another specialist, Dr. Warner, in New York and get his opinion. He runs the Carciniod Cancer Foundation where he posts my blog and recommends his patient take a look at my story. I have spoke with him a few times in the past year but maybe it's time for a visit.

Please keep me in your prayers tomorrow. I am a bit nervous about this new treatment for the bones. I don't want to spend a week of my summer sick, but I'll do whatever it takes.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What to do?

Yesterday I went to my liver onconlogist, Dr. Gamblim, to follow up on the treatment plan that Dr. Odo, Iowa specialist, has set up for me. As I posted on June 26th, you may want to reread to catch up, part of the plan was to have surgery to remove the gallbladder or the remaining ovary I have, because the cancer has spread to them and I don't need them anyways. Dr. Odo is also trying to find that main source of the cancer and he thinks that maybe it could be the ovaries since that was the first place the cancer popped up. However, Dr. Gamblim, whom I would have preform the surgery, totally disagrees with me undergoing any type of surgery at this point. He strongly feels that I may not be strong enough or my body well enough with all treatments I have had this past year to undergo any type of surgery that will not save my life. Although, removing this organs is generally a very simple surgery with minimum recovery time it would not be that simple for me. He believes that the benefits to me to undergo another procedure would not out way the risks for me. He is looking at the quality of my life and the time it would set me back to go through a surgery that will not save my life. Also he reminded us that I will not recover quick enough if I had the surgery to return to Switzerland for the next treatment by the fall. He explained to us in is jolly Opey like way (sorry Clark...we love you though) that on paper and scans I look a hell of a lot worse then I do in person which he believes fools me, Mark and others. He was very upfront when he summed up that he wants to give me the best life as possible while I fight this incurable cancer. He stressed that it is INCUREABLE and I need to think about living a life as well as possible. He went as far as telling me that he will not do the surgery even if I beg and if I was so adamant on having it then I need to look for another surgeon.

Today I have an appointment with my main oncologist, Dr. Fredland, and I will get his opinion on the whole situation. I hope he does not read my post before I get to his office. I am interested in his thoughts as well. In the end it is mine and Mark's decision. Why can't things just be simple?


Thursday, July 9, 2009

One Door Closes, Another Opens

I got on my computer to blog about the wonderful day I had with some friends. I first went to my emails, as I always do, and I got the following Bible verse sent to me. Since God comes first I thought I would spread this news first. So the wonderful day post will come soon.

When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!
Revelations 3:8

To believe this is having true faith. This is what has gotten me through this cancer journey and many other journeys I have gallop through in my life. There are many times we are hanging off the edge of the cliff and we just stop and not go further because of fear. But we need to trust that He will be there to save us or to teach us how to fight through. I know that is what God has and continues to do for me throughout this whole "cancer thing". I also believe that he is not just teaching me but others around me. So many times I hear that I truly can not be at peace with this whole diagnoses and I must be holding it all in. I have had friends and family tell me that I can be angry or upset if I want to be or that I don't have to always have such a good attitude. It has gone as far as having my oncologist giving me names of psychiatrist to talk to because he is afraid I have not accepted what he is telling me. If I was looking in on my life I would think the same thing about me as well, so I don't blame anyone for thinking that. But I will strongly tell you I am truly at peace with this whole cancer. I may not be at peace with how those around me handle things but I am at peace with my actions in this journey.

I must admit it is easy to be positive when you trust that He knows what is planned for you. I remember in college when I was stressing over getting a perfect grade on a test once. Now I think back to how much time I wasted in trying to be perfect at everything. Mark thought I was totally insane and he said to me, "if you do all you can do to make it happen, then the rest is out of your control. Don't worry over things you can not control." That has stuck with me forever, (I only wish Mark will take his advise at times) but I have taken it further as to say, "the rest in God's control". I am not going to pretend that I never get upset or down. Trust me I have had my times of defeat. But I can say that my hope and faith has gotten me through those times quickly. It seems that I always have some blessings to pick me up. It is those times that he catches me.

The journey itself of stage 4 cancer is how He teaches me how to fly. There are times when I pray so hard to take this all way. Or I pray to end the treatments. Or I pray to make this treatment be the miracle. Or I pray to give my doctors the knowledge of this rare cancer. Or I may pray to give my family a normal life without sadness and stress. God could easily have me wake up one day and this cancer all be over. He can give any miracle. But that is not how he teaches me or my family and friends to fly. By given into to every request we make to Him, He would not be doing the job of a father. He is given us the tools we need to live with adversity. As a mother I completely understand what He is doing. It takes me to a time when I am in a store with my children and they beg and beg for that one thing they can not live without. Sure it is easy for me to pick it up and just pay for it and sometimes I do (when I catch them). But other times I make them earn it or pay for it themselves. There are times when my boys want it so bad that they do what ever it takes (that's when I teach them to fly), but other times when they step back they realize they don't really want it anyways.

There has been so many times in my life that one door has closed and right next to me is another that is open. Sometimes I have kept knocking on the closed door afraid to go into the open one. Those are the times when I have missed opportunities because I can not except that the door I thought I wanted is now closed. Little did I know then that on the other side of the open door is what God has planned for me, not what I had planned for myself. I have had many doors closed while navigating through cancer: Doctors telling me there is no hope, financial pressures telling me I cannot afford certain treatments, doctors that are experts in my cancer practicing hundreds of miles away, medications that cost as much as my monthly mortgage payments, doctors that don't return my calls, and family pressures. The difference is I don't have time to keep knocking on those closed doors now. I have learned that when you are faced with a life or death situation God opens another door for you and gives you the courage to go through them quickly. I have gone through them and have had an amazing journey.

So I have to end this by saying I am not crazy, I just have faith. Believing that your life is in God's hands is taking control of any situation.

When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly! Revelations 3:8


P.S. don't forget to register your team for the wiffle ball tournament.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's not about me

So tonight I am unable to sleep and I thought I would post. Two weeks ago I got an update about a friend that has been fighting a brain tumor and the news was not promising. I have been thinking about her, her husband and two little girls all night. She, like me, has exhausted all her treatment options and had began some clinical trails. Unfortunately, the trails have not worked and the tumor has grown. I have not spoken or exchange emails with her lately because she is unable but I have heard from those close to her that she still has her fight in her. We know each other through a mutual friend and I photographed her and her family years back... our cancer reconnected us. She is an amazing inspiration for me. She is determined to do whatever it takes to be here for her daughters. I remember last summer she called me to tell me not to give into this disease she had been diagnosed for about 6 months prior. We talked about alternative medicines, herbs and foods that stop the cancer growth and about doing whatever it takes to be here for our children. At that time she was eating blueberries everyday because she read somewhere that blueberries stop tumors. She is unbelievable.

One summer night I got a knock on my door and it was three of my very good friends from "the field" as we call the neighborhood that I grew up in (Greenfield). They where holding this beautiful huge box for me. Jen was not with them because she was under the weather but she helped with the surprise and gave them the idea. In the box was about 3 dozen individually wrapped gifts for me to open whenever I felt blue. The boys and I loved reaching for one every time something happened and when the last gift came to open it we were sad it was all over. It was so fun to have that gift, but better that my friends whom I sadly don't get to spend much time with since I moved came to my home just hoping I would be home. They are crazy like that. What I could not wrap my mind around was that this woman, mother, wife, attorney and cancer patient thought of me to cheer up. She is very special.

A few months ago Jen emailed me to see how I was doing. She was getting ready to take her girls to Disney World where the cancer was forgotten and the magic will be remembered. I was so excited for her to be able to spend that time with her princesses. We promised each other to get together for coffee when she got back. It's easy for two mom's with cancer to talk about things that others can not understand. Well that coffee meeting never happened and I regret not following through with it. Jen is being taken care of by hospice now and my heart is aching.

Through my whole crazy journey of cancer I have never felt sorry for myself. I don't ask why? I stopped trying to figure out where it's comes from and just accept that I have it. I feel the cancer taking is toll on me more and more, but I just keep chugging along. I try hard not to cry over it, although at times the tears flow. But when I see stories like Jen, I begin to question the fairness in life. This beautiful young mother, a wife and a promising career as an attorney has done everything right in life and now she is suffering. I know God is good but when my time comes I am going to ask him one question, "why do you choose who you choose?". I know I will finally understand the answer. Additionally, I know that I will never wait for a coffee with my friends. So everyone of you who have noncommittally said let's do lunch or coffee I am making a date with you this week. Look for my call.

Please pray for Jen but more importantly Jen's family who loves her so much.


Don't forget to register for the Wiffle Ball Tournament.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sorry for the delay in posting since I've been back from Iowa. It's been a really rough week. The bone pain has increased tremendously and I am doing whatever it takes just to function. I have started many post in the last few days (I'm determine to finish this one) but just can't get through them. I have not started all the treatments that Dr. O'Dorisio recommended because I am waiting for insurance approval or some kind of grant to help offset the outrageous cost that drug companies charge for your life. I'm not going to get into that frustration. But I am sure once I start those meds the pain will get better.

Anyways, I just felt the need to post today about how much support I have and how much I appreciate all of it. When a person is in pain, the pain that is beyond tolerable, it is so easy to start to go to the "dark side". There were a few times this week when I could of just slipped into the deep abyss of feeling sorry for myself or just giving up. But all those who are around me make it completely impossible to do so and Mark is always there to remind me of how blessed I am. I thought about getting him a cheer leading skirt and some pompoms to shake because he has taken on that role. The other day after thanking my girlfriend for helping me out with the boys she made a comment about wishing she could do more but she doesn't know how to help me. That is not the first time someone has made that comment to me and I know that many of you feel that way. All I can say is that the little things that are done to help me: phone calls, an email, a card, dinner, planning the dinner list, organizing the sunning, setting up my chair at a bb game, prayers, invites to lunch, taking my boys out to dinner, loading my car at the grocery store when you see me, etc. mean the world to me. It makes me determined to not give in to this disease. I know to many of you they seem so easy and trivial but to Mark and I they mean the world. Although at times I feel helpless and embarrassed that I need that help, I have learned that it is worth taking. It is those things that make me appreciate how truly blessed I am and that this cancer has shown me the good in people. Once again my family and I can never pay it back but we can pay it forward, which will make a difference in someone else life.

When I was redignosed last May I had a house full of people around me for weeks then months pitching in and just supporting me. I had two of my dearest friends start a dinner list so my family could eat. I had fundraiser ideas being tossed at me in every direction. I had a group of friends and neighbors planting my flowers and a summer of grass cutting. My mailbox was filled everyday with cards. I had a few packages being sent to me of things to get me through the days when I would be sick. Phone calls filled my answering machine. And I can not forget the how my family rallied around me. Mark, the boys and me walked around like zombies in complete shock and everyone else just step in. It got us through and still does. But I remember my mind spinning with thoughts repaying or how I did not want anyone to think of me as helpless. I would continue to say over and over again, "I don't want anyone to think I am less of a person because I am sick". I was afraid that all this people that were helping lost respect for me or worse felt sorry for me.

I have come to realizes that was not the case in the least bit. But that I needed this support and God has given me amazing people in my life. I have always been able to take care of myself... with or without cancer. I realizes now that I never had to do that and that I was surrounded by family and friends who just do for me if I let them be the amazing and caring people they are. The things that many of you do may feel like nothing to you but to me they keep me motivated to keep fighting.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. That is what happen to me this week and Mark and the boys were excused from trying to keep me up. You all have lighted the flame within me this week by your support. It takes weeks like this past one when I am reminded that I have this horrible cancer, to see how truly blessed I am. Monday I will be going for another group of bone scans and X-Ray. Then later that week I will be receiving my first treatment for the actual cancer in the bones. Although the progress for these treatments have not shown the exact results I am hoping and wishing for the cancer has shown me how unbelievable amazing my life is because of all the people around me. Whatever my results may be and whatever the new treatment does to me I know that with all of you I will get through.

Thank you again,