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

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Giving Challenge

As promised in my previous post, I have an experiment that I would like everyone who reads my blog to participate in. As the Christmas seasons ends and the New Year begins I could not help but think about why this time of year is such a happy time for so many compared to the rest of the year. I believe it's the joy and feeling of worth we get when we give to others. I know for me, I enjoy nothing more then watching those I love open the special gift that I spent so much time to pick out. Especially when I give a gift to someone that is not expecting it. Sometimes I spend weeks or even months thinking about what I will be given to those on my Christmas list. I have had many of my friends offer to do my shopping for me this year, but that is the one thing about the Christmas season that I so look forward too. It was a little tougher this year, not because of the cancer, but because of a husband who worried every time I went out shopping alone. He said it was because of my health but I think it was really the packages I was caught sneaking in the house a few times. Whatever it was I did not let his anxiety stop my joy.

A few months ago I read a book titled "29 Gifts". The author, Cami Walker, was suffering severely from MS. She was deep in depression and tremendous pain. A friend and a spiritual counselor she was complaining to told her to stop focusing on herself and start giving to others. To sum it up that is what she did and in 29 straight days of giving she began to feel better. Before this project of generosity she was unable to work, walk or even get out of bed most days. After the month of straight giving her life turned around....even walking daily without a cane. When I finished the book I could not help but think what it would be like if everyone who has some kind of pain......physical or emotional.....would try this experiment.

I never thought much about the book after I closed it for the last time....until Christmas night. After all the gifts were opened and we were home from spending the day with family, my youngest said to me, "My favorite part of the day was seeing Dad open the gift I got him" . I don't even remember what gift Mark opened was given by Nolan, but I know that it was special to Nolan. He felt the joy of giving. I once again was a proud mom. I have never allowed my boys to do list for Christmas or cut out picture of things they are expecting. However, I do get hints right after Thanksgiving. When they start talking about what they want I, like most moms, give them the same, "it's not about getting, it's about giving". I know through them feeling the joy of giving is not something I can force or lecture into them. They just need to experience it. Nolan did that this Christmas. So it got me thinking about the book I read.

I am going to start my days of giving. I would like all those who are going through a struggle or a tough time to give with me. However, I want to change it a tad bit. I don't want to put a time limit on the giving. I would like to see how many days in a row those who are participating can give. The giving can be at all levels but it must be conscious giving. For example it could be holding the door for someone, buying a coffee for another, sending a kind note to a friend, giving a flower to a stranger or much larger. The catch is if you miss a day of conscious giving then you must start over the counting. Cami Walker suggested that you jot down your daily gift or even journal about it. I on the other hand feel better just stealth giving. But whatever works for you. Maybe even share your experience by emailing me.

I would love to hear from anyone who is participating and the changes that have occurred in their life. Or maybe the difference that you made in someone's life. I have no way of repaying all the gifts and blessing that have been given to me, but this will be one way I can pay it forward. Let's keep the spirit of the holiday all year through.


P.S. After telling Mark about this experiment he thought I was going crazy or had to many pain pills. I have not done either. I just want everyone to experience the joy that I have gotten this Christmas. It can not do anything but bring good feelings.