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, October 6, 2009

Next step!

Mark and I have seen enough hospitals, waiting rooms, scan centers and doctors in the past 5 days then I had when I was actually in the hospital. After hearing the news on Thursday (in previous post) I was ordered to receive an MRI of the hip and femur on Friday. I was told that the total time in the MRI tube with a padded weight holding down my hips would be a total of 40 minutes. After about 3 minutes the pain was so bad I felt like I was going to rip my eyes out. But being the stubborn Irish girl I am I said not one word to the tech doing the scan and decide to suck it up. After all, I thought that I only had 37 minutes to go. I have learned in the past year that with bone tumors the pain can get so intense that I actually go to a whole new level of mediation. Not like the Yoga classes I miss so much, but more like an outer body mediation. As I was listening to my favorite station with the headset that the tech was nice enough to give me heard the disc jokey (if that is what they are still called) announce a 50 minute music hour. So of course I knew I would be done before the commercial came on. However, I ended up staying in the tube for over two 50 minute music hours. Yes 2 1/2 hours and all I could think about was that Mark is probably freaking out. The pain was so incredible before I got out of that @#$% tube my shirt was completely wet from my tears. The whole mediation thing was thrown about the first half hour. Apparently, the radiologist wanted to make sure he had every single view because he was in awe at the number of tumors for my type of cancer. It is very unusual for carcinoid cancer to spread to the bones. Great, once again I am the freak show that doctors have never seen. Every since I was a little girl I loved being different and refused to conform to the normal society. Being a teenager in the 80's I had to work really hard to actually stand out. In the era of neon clothes and mohawks different was actually normal. Never did I know that cancer would make that so easy.

When I got home I had an email from Dr. Friedland. He had already checked my scans and informed me that Dr. MGough, a orthopedic oncologist, will be calling me immediately to talk to me. I could tell in the tone of the email that things were not good. However, I think I knew that already when I saw tears in the tech's eyes when she finally freed me from the tube. After talking to Dr. MGough's office, not Dr. MGough, I decided to put all this news aside and wait until my appointment Monday morning, as soon as I can get there. The weekend was great because I knew that Monday was coming quick with a not so positive experience so I savored every minute with Mark and the boys. That's the "Good in Cancer", you sometimes have the advantage of knowing that the days to come are going to be tough so you can appreciate the simple times before hand.

Yesterday came and the news was just what we prepared for. The cancer has spread more in the right leg and moved to the left leg. The scans showed that my bones in the right leg are becoming unstable and brittle. Not as bad as the doctor would of thought with the amount of tumors that have grown but still a concern. I guess being forced to drink milk as a child finally paid off a bit. So with that he gave me two alternatives....neither sound like a party. Both options are serious enough to rightfully obtain a second opinion. But as of now this is what I have:

1. The first option will be to have a surgery that will stabilize the bone. The doctor will insert a medal rod in the femur bone. While in there he will try to reduce some of the tumors depending on the mass of the tumor. I will then start immediate radiation. Their are several risks for this surgery for me. One main risk being that the fatty acids that fill the bone will be released in fill the lung. I only having one lung would be at a risk of death if this happens. However if this bone breaks I could risk death as well.

2. The second option is to do radiation first to take care of the pain then do the surgery to stabilize the bone. Their are several risk to that as well. The main risk is that the radiation does not work and the bone becomes weaker.

I did schedule the surgery for the end of October even though the doctor wanted sooner. I really just need to think about this all and get a second opinion. Of course I would not do any of this without hours of research.

Nevertheless, I will keep my faith. I am determined to do whatever it takes to be here as long as I can.