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, November 12, 2009

Thank you for all the emails and calls. Your concerns about my lack of blogging is very touching. I got a kick in the butt today and back at my journey I am.

I have had a difficult week and today Mark decided to give me an intervention to snap me out of the funk I have been spiralling down too. The role reversal of Mark giving me the intervention was quite humbling. The motivational words that were coming out of his mouth where way to familiar. All they way down to actually bullet pointing exact situations to prove his theory that I am slipping into the "dark side" of cancer. He did not pull out the white board and pointed like I have done with him but I think if he knew where I hide it he may of. As he was speaking I can see the wheels in his head turning trying to actually remember my exact words when he is the subject of concern. I realize now that the blank look in his eyes after a few minutes of me having my pump-up meetings with him was him not showing disinterest but him really taking mental notes.

As Mark was talking it click to me that my attitude about this disease and the way I choice to battle it affects everyone that I am in contact with. We have had a few uncharacteristic incidents with one of our children. So this morning Mark and I were summoned to the principals office where the main topic was this child. I said to one of the many adults in the room, "let's get to the root of the issue" because it just could not be about his mom having cancer. "When did you notice a change?" I asked. She told us almost two weeks ago. So after coming up with some solutions with the group on how to "fix" my already perfect child I decided to go back to what went on in our life two weeks ago. On the ride home from our son's school I went over every situation that could of been the root to my son's change in prospective. I started rattling off doctors appointments, scans, results of scans, death of a friend, my unexpected trip to the emergency room and even rambled about running out of bread and cereal. Finally, Mark looked at me and said, "YOU have changed. Your attitude has changed. Your ambition has changed. Your smile has gone away. Your laugh is not as loud. Your hard work ethic is falling. Your eyes are sad. You are not the Sunny that we all know."

He continued to list things that I would of never let fall by the waste side no matter how sick I was. The one that hit me the most was telling me that I am letting go of my passion to beat this cancer. As tears filled my eyes I knew deep down he was right. I've been letting cancer define who I am. When I was told of my relapse I decided to do whatever I could to not let people look at me and see cancer. I would not and still don't accept pity or someone feeling sorry for me. Cancer is part of me but it is not who I am and it does not define what I can do. However, I am afraid that in the past few weeks cancer has beaten me down. I have become tired....too tired to fight. That attitude change has changed the whole dynamics of our family. A change I am not willing to accept until I cannot do anything about it.

I have not given up and will never give up. All the same, I have not been the fighter I usually am and it has affected those around me. I don't think in our 15 years of marriage Mark has every had to tell me not to give up on anything.....until today. He told me that it's always been a given in our family that I am the rock that motivates the rest. And when the rock stops being hard the whole mountain falls. With this realization I have learned that my action on how I handle this cancer will teach all those important to me how to fight any obstacle that comes their way. Mark, my boys, my family and my friends will feed from my attitude. If I want them to look at me with hope and not pity then I need to act like I have hope and not fear. My son told me this evening that he knows I am getting sicker and he is scared. I can only think that my action in the past two weeks have made him feel that way. All I can do is go forward and let my strength shine on him. No storm is a match for a "Sunny" attitude. So the fight continues.