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.