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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

School Days, School Days, Good Old School Days

Tuesday came. The day I was dreading all summer. The first day of school.

It became a bitter sweet day for me. On one hand I was so sad to see my babies leave on that school bus. I love the summer with them. Especially now that they are older and the days consist of more fun then work. I was determined to make this summer all about our family. I only had mild treatments so that I was not to ill to do all the fun events I had planned. My doctors were not to happy about this but for a few months I decided to choose quality of life over quantity. When I was under the weather I just kept telling myself, "it's for them... SUCK IT UP!". I also made it my mission to have my boys become closer then ever to each other. I know that they wanted some separation at times, which I gave them once in awhile, but as a mother I know that soon they will need each other. So I made them have fun together. Yes made them!!!! There were times when play dates were cut short or we missed a few picnics. I am sorry for that, but this summer I had to make about just the five of us. We slowed down on sports and still were running 5 to 6 days a week with that. We only did a few camps. We did not renew our pool membership. We just hung together.

I also found ways to back off and have Mark do some of the parenting. He was all for that, but it drove me crazy to lose that control at times. However, I noticed by the end of the summer the boys where going to him more often for help, rides, schedules or questions. It has always been that they would walk right by him to find me to ask were something was, for food or drink, ride to a friends or practice, or just to talk. I use to think that Mark was just invisible to them and only could be seen when it's time for fun or of course money. Actually, that would work for me at times too. Of course I'm joking. I don't want the lecture from him that he did not like that comment on the blog....blah, blah, blah.

I am hoping that they had a great summer despite what they are going through. I know that is why it was hard this year to see them off to school. It feels safe to me, and them, when we are together. Some may say I am being greedy, but I wish I could just keep them by me forever.

On the other hand, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Relief that they are now a year older and I am still here. Still here to teach them and be with them. I have this urgent need to teach them everything they need to know to be a great asset to society. Things that I would once say, "I'll let go until later" are now important. I know that later is now today. I try hard to be subtle about it but they know that I put them on a fastpass to acceptable behavior and believe in yourself. It's not about having them grow up quickly or anything, it's about teaching them all I need to before it's to late. Teaching them how to love each other unconditional, how to look on the bright side of life, how to treat others with respect, how to respect yourself. I try to instill faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in your family and faith in those around you. I am determined to have them be the best they can be and follow their dreams despite the difficult ride they are currently on. Sometimes they tell me to stop preaching or lecturing so I lay back a little. But usually they are listening and watching. Watching because I believe my example of living is far more potent then any speech I can give them.

I felt accomplished because they seem to be understanding more what life is all about. Sure they still have lists of what they want. But on the top of the list now instead of PS3 games or sports equipment there are things like: more time with my mom to get neighbor to have you foot feel better.....more time with my grandmother or their uncle. Things that you can not buy. Things that make a difference in living a full life.

They did fine and I cried for a little bit. Isn't that what life is all about. I feel so blessed I am able to see them go to the first day of school one more year.