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

Friday, October 2, 2009

Prays Please!

Well I've been postponing this post because I have been hoping to give some inspiring and good news. However with this disease we can never tell when the demon is going to start trying to take over again. For the past 2 1/2 weeks I have been in some tremendous pain in my right leg. Even though I have a few tumors in that leg I really just thought that it would get better. In the past few days it become unbearable, to the point were I could not walk. I had an appointment already schedule for yesterday to receive my first dose of a new med that is suppose to strengthen the bones, ironic. I actually was not even going to mention the leg pain, because I am always in some pain, but when Dr. Friedland ask me to get up on the table he saw the look of horror in my eyes. To me that high examining table looked like Mt. Everest. Dr. Friendland was in shock that I was not going to tell him after he had to watch Mark lift me on to the table. I guess somewhere deep in my mind I new exactly what was going on and just wanted to stuff it deep down.

It is Dr. Friedland's assumption the the cancer has spread pretty quickly in my right leg bones. He wanted to send me immediately to radiation therapy but I panicked. For many reason I am terrified of direct radiation. I need to do some research before I do anything and fifteen minutes is not quite enough time to prepare myself. So he decided to give me an MRI and confirm what we all know is going on. It is Dr. Friedland's style to put the patient at ease before he puts them through hell. In all seriousness, he really does try to make you feel good about every decision of treatment. After waiting an hour for the poor nurse to call every hospital in the UPMC umbrella we were unable to find an available MRI machine asap. So we decided to cancel the radiation that was schedule and go home. Today I will be getting my 90 minute MRI and Monday if the results show necessary I will get my first treatment of direct radiation.

I was actually thanking God that there were no MRI's available at the time because I was so overwhelmed, not to mention Mark was on the verge of taking a bridge. I always try to clarify that I truly believe it is harder for the loves ones of a cancer patient then it is for the patient themselves. I still believe that with all my heart, but yesterday I was being selfish. I was so angry that he was frustrated. I felt such a helplessness and complete loss of control. He was upset that our appointment was at 9:30 and we were not seen until 11:30.....pissed off that I would not sit in a wheelchair and then when I finally gave into the wheelchair complaining that the handle was to low for him to push it....frustrated with the whole hospital monopoly because we waited an hour and still had no MRI done......annoyed that his phone was ringing continuously with client calls and he can not pick them up to make some money and then completely angry at me because I insisted on going to Austen's open house last night even after the doctor suggested I just stay in bed and rest. If you know me I refuse to miss my kids important activities if there is anyway possible I can make it. If I had to crawl I would of been there because Austen made it clear that it was important for him that I don't let Dad go alone. When we got home all hell broke loose when Logan decided to tell us, with his "I don't care attitude", that he forgot a book he needed to study with for a test he had today. I thought at that moment Mark was just going to blow his lid.

This is just a small example of what cancer can do to a family. In just one day it can completely put your home in shambles. The cancer tsunami. In a insistent this monster can rip all sense of hope and happiness..... if you decide to let it take over. Cancer can take a happy, go lucky, jolly man and turn him into a panicked stranger.....if you decide to let it take over. It can take three respectful, amazing, smart, straight A children and turn them into a walking mess......if you decide to let it take over. However, I am not going to let it take over. I am not going to let my family fall apart. My boys will not feel guilt about their mom being sick even when they make a mistake. I refuse to let this monster win.

This week I have been tested. I have had some quiet meltdowns were the tears fell. I had some times anger - at the cancer, at the doctors, at the nurses, at myself, and at my husband. I had a time of frustration that I am unable to do what a mother is suppose to do. All the things I complained about for years before hit with the cancer, laundry, taxing and helping with homework. I even had a time of envy at Mark because he is starting to get the hang of being both a mom and a dad. But, what I refuse to have is a time where I loose hope because that is when this disease has won.

We have hit a road bump which will slow me down a bit, but I promise you it will not become a road block. I will get through this and I will help Mark get through this too. We are resilient and will not let this beast take over our family spirit. However, we know that we can not do any of this fight without God.

I will fill you in on the results soon.


P.S. On October 18th my running angels R4R will be holding a 5k and 1 mile walk. The proceeds will be going not only to my battle but to another family in Guthrie, Iowa. Through my blog I have had the pleasure of corresponding with this family. Please read to the right of this page the article written in the Advance Leader on September 24th for more details.