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
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'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
C/o S & T Bank
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Hot Line
By Rosie DePastino
I'm lying and thinking with
Plenty of time
It seems that the world is
Just one up hill to climb.
The question occurs "can we make
It or not?"
If we quit at the middle
It can be a far drop.
We sometimes need courage and
Someone to lean on
It gives us the strength
To manage to see dawn.
They pull us up and out of our
One thing you don't need to be
set back in regression.
It's sometimes hard to
Count our gifts
But thinking about worse others
Should give us a lift.
A gift is nice, a present too
But the best gift is prayers,
Love and a smile
When you're blue.
So in the darkest hour when
You think you're all alone
Remember there's a hot line
To a very special phone.
I won't tell you whose on it
For I guess that you should know
But someone'll always answer
And He'll tell you the way to go.
I was climbing up the hill
And I almost had a fall
But I guess you know just
What I did - I slid and slid and crawled.
Until I found my courage
And picked right up the phone
And now I call the Hot Line
When I feel I'm all alone.
I've been waiting until the perfect moment to post this poem. What better time then two days before Christmas. A teenager at the end of her life did not lose faith that anytime she had a special hot line to call God. She believed that he was there even when she was at her worse possible time. She did not ask him to cure her but to keep up her spirits while she went through this cancer journey.
There is one question I ask when I read this poem. How can a young girl fighting for her life still have faith that God has not forsaken her, when many who have everything don't believe? Something to remember when we open all those store brought gifts this season. The greatest gift does not cost a dime and is free to us anytime. GOD!!!!!
Have the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS ever!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Have an amazing day. If you want it to be then you can make it be.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
December 15, 1997 is a date I will remember always and treasure so deep in my heart. On that day God gave me a miracle. God knew exactly what he was doing when he blessed our family with you as our second son. I love you more then you could ever know. I am so glad I can spend your 12th birthday showing you how much you mean to all of us. Thank you for being the best brother and most amazing son.
Here is something I jotted down for you. I wish I could express my wishes more elegantly then this but treasure it and know that it is my gift.
My wish for you Logan
Son, I wish I could fill your life with nothing but Joy
so you can always stay an innocent little boy
Son, I wish I could make all your wishes come true
so that you will never feel sad or blue
Son, I wish I could fulfill every dream you may see
so you can know how happy you have made me
Son, I wish I can gift you all the riches around
so all you frowns are turned upside down
Son, I wish your life could be nothing but fun
and all your nights and days be filled with sun
Son, I wish I can take all of life's pains away
so you can have nothing but glorious days
Son, I wish I could show you how to have strength in times of despair
so you can have faith and never have fear
Son, I wish I could live every single day of your life
so that I can take on all your strife
There is so much I wish for you my dear son
but I can not give you because your life would then be done.
You need to have all that bad that comes with the good.
Otherwise you will never know were you stood.
You need to learn how to change obstacles into opportunities
that way you will see
how wonderful living your life can be
You need to put your faith in God above
so you can feel His most amazing love
If I could wave a wand and grant all my wishes true
Then you will never see how much I truly love you.
So on you birthday I will gift you all the above
but tomorrow I must continue to fight
so I can teach you to look for the light.
Everyday is a gift I want to say
so that your birthday is not just one day.
P.S. Happy Birthday my wild loving boy!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The real reason for our trip to Tampa was to get more information on my cancer and see about some new clinical trails that I had researched. I had read many articles about Dr. Kvols and was interested in his knowledge about this rare and complicated cancer. With our medical bills pile raising I was unsure if the benefits of seeing him would out way the expense. Then a few months ago I received an email from one of my carcinoid cancer posse, Bob Paver, who highly recommended that I try to get an appointment with Dr. Kvols or Dr. Warner in New York. Bob found my blog when he was doing research for his on carcinoid cancer and felt the urge to reach out to me about his positive experience. This is what I mean when I write about how God puts people in your life just when you need them.
As I was driving over to the west coast through miles and miles of orange groves, I thought about how unselfish it was of Bob to contact me. It is just a true example how we are all in this together. Life with cancer is not just about the individual themselves. It's about all of us reaching out and helping each other. Looking at the bigger picture of this disease can do so much more then just thinking about your own suffering. I don't know if I am explaining myself clearly, perhaps just saying we are all in this together. Spread your wealth of knowledge to others and share your experience to benefit others. That is one of the purposes of my blog but it was actually turned into so much more.
We arrived at Moffit Cancer Center right on time which is actually early for Mark and the boys. After getting the boys set up in the waiting room with their missed school work and portable game systems we checked in. Everyone was so pleasant and positive. The records that I had sent three times were MIA so I started to panic for fear that this whole trip was a waste. After stressing my concern and begging for them to look everywhere because I knew that they were sent the records turned up. To the nurse's surprise, but not mine, there was a box full. Unfortunately because of the mix up Dr. Kvols did not have enough time to read the mounds of records. So instead he spent a considerably amount of time listening to me go over my history with this disease. He listened with such interested and did not rush me a bit. This just amazed me because he is one of the most knowledgeable doctor in the US about carcinoid cancer and he listen like this was the first time he heard this cancer story. He then gave us all his knowledge about the disease and explained things to me that I had always wondered. Just when I thought I had read, researched and learned everything there is to know about this monster growing inside me, there was more to learn.
After I was done he examined me and asked me all about the symptoms I have or had. Then we went into a conference room while he took some time to review all the scans I have had in the past year and half. After some time he came in and went over everything and every option he sees for me. He did not have any clinical trails that I would be illegible for, because of my advancement, but believes that I am doing everything right. He could not give me a formal recommendation until he reads over my box of records. However, he did give an informal:
1. Continue on the Afinator and Stando because he believes that I will see some stability with that drug. In some cases he has even seen shrinkage. But in my case stability is what we will hope for.
2. Next step in the next few months would be to add another drug that has been proven to work along with Afinator. He wants to save that option until we see what the Afinator would do.
3. The last option would be to go back to Switzerland to receive my last two treatments. He suggested that I hold off until we see what the Afinator will do.
He gave me other suggestions but like I said he needs to go over all my records to see if they will actually be my options. The formal report should be finished quickly. What he did confirm was that I am doing everything I can do and not leaving any stone unturned. He told me to not give up and keep on fighting. He stressed that everyday new treatments are being thought of. In fact, I found that with the FDA approval of Afinator just this May. He was so passionate about this cancer and finding ways to keep carcinoid patients alive.
Finally I asked the million dollar question, "How long do you think I can live with this cancer?" I could tell he was a little uncomfortable by this question but has been asked it thousand of times before by others who have come from all over to meet him. I can imigine that he will never get use to given anyone a time on their life. He cleared his throat and looked me straight in the eyes. He, like every doctor I asked this question to, could not give me any guarantees and told me my cancer is advanced. But what he did say is that if I keep up all that I am doing I could live many more years. The goal is to keep myself alive until a new treatment to cure this disease comes and every minute it gets closer.
At the end of the consult Dr. Kvols gave me a big hug. He then walked out to the waiting room and introduced himself to my boys. He told them to take care of me and to learn from me. I'm not sure what he meant by that but I hope they learn from my will to live everyday for them.
We will make another appointment after the holidays.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Today's sunrise like everyday's was amazing. After trying hard to wake anyone to come along and getting several roll overs and no answers I almost gave up and went back to bed. Then as I was putting away my favorite hoodie my thirteen year old come yawning down the steps. He rubbed his eyes and said, "Mom can I have a turn to go with you?". Austen has never volunteered nor ever wanted to get up at 5:30 in morning to go sit on the beach with his mother. I was in complete shock but pleasantly surprised when he asked. Of course I took him up on it. I explained to him that it takes about 35 minutes for the sun to completely hit the sky and that I like to watch the whole thing. He said he understood and still wanted to come. So I wasn't going to push it anymore and rushed him out the door.
As we sat on the beach in the dark waiting for a glimpse of color Austen asked me why I enjoy this. I really did not know how to answer his question without him thinking I was being nerdy or just emotional Mom. As things go, lately everything I do or say to him is "just not cool". So I tried to explain it in his terms. I explained to him that seeing a sunrise reminds me that no matter how hard the day before was a new day is coming. The sun will always rise again no matter how many problems or battles you have. I basically told him that there is always a new day to look forward to and watching the sun greet the day reminds me of that. There is no better way to see faith and hope then in a sunrise. He shook his head so I think he was getting what I was saying.
As we sat on the blanket we talked about all kinds of things. Almost like what we use to do a few years ago. We just caught up with each other. I knew that God had a hand in him waking up today. We really needed this reconnection. The sun slowly started pushing it's way up over the ocean. Austen then looked at the sky and saw all the amazing colors. All he could say was, "Wow". I started snapping my shots and he asked if he could take a few. I set the camera and handed it off to him. He just started snapping like me.....but differently. He really enjoyed himself. Logan and especially Nolan have been my sunrise buddies several times. Each one enjoying the morning differently. Now Austen can be added to the list.
Right before the sun made it's final destination to the sky Austen mumbled behind the camera lens, "Mom, I see why you do this every morning. This is so deep". He handed me the camera and sat down on the blanket to see the last few minutes of the amazing colored sky. I did not say a word because I wanted him to feel the peace that I feel when I am alone and in the zone. After the colors where gone we both got up and started to walk. He could tell I was in some pain so he grab my arm. As we walked up the beach to the walkway a morning jogger passed us. I made a comment about how that use to be me a year ago and how I miss being able to do that. He then said, "but you did not notice the sunrise then....like you do now Mom". I felt like kicking myself. I just got finish showing him one of God's miracles and I sounded as if I lost faith. He then added, "Mom you are so tough. Don't worry about that stupid stuff." I then realized he sounds like me.
Just another moment that shows "The Good In Cancer".