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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line."

I needed to recite this quote many times this week. It's been a rough week for me and my journey. My oncologist decided to double my monthly treatment and shorten the length in between from every 30 days to every 21 days. Before going to my treatment last week, I convinced Mark to stop at Oakmont Bakery (best bakery in Eastern Pennsylvania for all those not formaliar) and to purchase some tasty treats for all the nurses. I believe I was subconciously thinking that maybe if I bribe them then they will go easy on the treatments, like they have any control of that anyways. But I told myself out loud it was because they are so kind to me and they deserve to know I appreciate them. What ever my intentions where it did not work. However, I was not prepared for how horrible I would be feeling. I am on the upswing now and ready to look at the view soon. Although my blood work is still not as high the doctors would like it to be. So sorry for the delay in posts.

This quote was sent to me by a wife of a fellow carcinoid patient. Through my blog I have met and corresponded with several carcinoid patient or their loved ones. I have learned that each and every patient is suffering from the same cancer and struggling with the fact that it is incurable and eventually will end their life. Although, we have this cancer in common each story is unique. Some have been misdiagnosed at first, some are at early stages, some are at the end, some are struggling with the emotional hardship, some are struggling with the financial hardship, some have families, others are single, some have amazing doctors, others are frustrated with the little knowledge that is out there about this cancer, whatever the situation is each one is climbing probably the steepest mountain they will ever climb. The question that I know is being asked by each of us is, "Where is the finish line with the great view?".

I, like many others suffering from a termenal illness, need to know what is the definition of a finish line. Is it getting through a treatment? Is it finding a miracle pill to help you with the side effects of this cancer? Is it being able to just have a good day without having the disease take over?
Is it finding a cure? Or is it death? I like to believe it's all the aboved mentioned. There are times when I see the beauty of the view when I am on the recovery from treatment. The feeling is amazing when you realized you made it through those weeks of misery. There are moments when I reach for a pill or a heated pad just to get some relief and then later realize it worked. There are days that I lay my head down at night and thank God for having a day that cancer does not rule it. Those days are more beautiful then any view I have seen or could ever imagine. Of course finding a cure would be one of the most amazing finish lines to my journey. And if it is death, then my faith has led me to believe that the view from that finish line is beyond anything I could concieve.

What I am trying to express is that going through termanal cancer you will experience many finish lines with amazing views if you define them as you like. Sure death is always in the back of your mind. In fact every minute of every day we are fighting to avoid it. So how can the mind not go to that thought when we talk about finish lines? But it is not the only glorious view if you alow yourself to see the other accomplishments while battling to avoid the final finish line.

So I said the "death" word. The word that no one dares to say to someone in my situation. I will address that word in a later post, but for now I will assure you that I will do all I can to stay away from that finish line. However, when that time is here I am not afraid.

"The steeper the mountain, the harder the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line".