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, November 24, 2009

The Trip

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in the Sunshine state of Florida year after year with my family. Unlike most we now enjoy the 20 hour drive just as much as we enjoy our time on the beach. Being trapped in a SUV forces us to focus on spending some quality time with each as well as enjoy the sites on the way. Now that the boys are getting older they do more sleeping then anything else, even more then the "he's looking out my window" arguments. One thing that we do have that I think is so special, but the boys would be so embarrassed that I mention, is our love for the same music. We have a secret love for some of the same artists and bands which we love to crank up and sing too. I say secret because the boys don't want to admit they actually like the same music as their parents. Of course we each have our favorite type of music but some that are amongst the favorite are U2, Alman Brothers, The Beach Boys, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen and so many more. With the cancer stress and anxiety in our lives music has always been our refuge. Our group is not anything anyone wants to hear nor would my boys ever admit they enjoy actually singing with their family in the car, but to us it is what connects us.

As Mark and the boys belted off U2's finest, "It's a Beautiful Day", I could not help but think what a beautiful day and everyday is if you make the choice to live it to the fullest. The drive to Florida is like second nature to me. I have been on this route at least twice a year ever since I was a little girl. Florida was my father's haven and wanted it to be a haven for his children too. Each road stop, mountain stop or tourist trap have some kind of fun memory. I can still hear my father presence when we drive through the West Virgina and Virgina mountains that he loved so much. His words, "this is heaven on earth", still ring in my head every time we hit that spot on the trip. In fact, I even repeated it to the boys this time. They gave me the same reaction I gave my dad, "you got to be kidding me. This is all heaven has?". But now I get what he was saying. This whole experience is pure pleasure if you let it be.

As I sat in the front seat and looked out to the most amazing sky I realized that just two years ago I was wishing I was almost to our destination. I did not know then what cancer was going to teach me now. In fact I remember that each of us had our own headset playing our music of choice while we tried to block out Mark's 80's rock. The only communication we would have with each other would be them asking me to pass them some food, them asking Mark the famous, "how much longer?" question, or an occasional "he's touching me". Now we actually talk about things. Things that matter, things that don't matter, or the beauty of the sites. We even nicknamed our youngest "Cliff Claven" because he gives us some odd fact every hour or so. He is so funny when he is trying to be serious. He is Mark all over. It sounds like this car ride is a perfect "Hallmark" movie special. Well I will tell you it's not anywhere near perfect. However, to me it's "heaven on earth".

After the song ended Mark turned down the stereo a little before the next track began. He reached over and grab my hand. He could see that I was not feeling well and he told me that he would pull over when I needed him to. I told him that I was perfect and that I am enjoying every minute of this day. He assured me that he was not rushing and we can take our time to get to Vero. In my joking manner but I was truly serious I said, "let's take our time forever. When you have what I have there is no need to rush to get where I am going." Unaware that Logan, my middle son, was listen we heard him chime in. With a very low tone, so low we could hardly hear him he whispered, "I wish I could stop time for you Mom". Although that moment was precious it was broken with his older brothers comment calling him a dork. Then a shutup followed and a you shut up after that. That is when we knew that life was normal again. Realizing how special simple times are is a gift that cancer has given me. Another "GOOD" in cancer I found just riding in a car.


P.S. Along with spending Thanksgiving with my family, this trip was also planned to fight this incurable cancer. Next week I will be seeing another carcinoid cancer guru in Tampa FL. Please keep me in your prayers.