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, February 21, 2010

Be Better not Bitter

Okay, I am sorry for the delay in posts. Thank you for all the emails, phone calls and cards. As much as I tried to hide the affects that this cancer takes on me it becomes difficult to do so with my fellow blog readers. Yes at times the lack of posts means I am a little under the weather, and I don't mean the 3 or more feet of snow we here in Pittsburgh have gotten in the past two weeks. Sometimes I try really hard to convince myself, and those around me, that I am not sick. I actually will say things aloud like I have a case of the flu or got hit with a virus when I feel sick to my stomach or fatigue. The best according to Mark is when the pain from the bone lesions flare up and I say that I pulled a muscle or two. As much as I am open and willing to talk about my cancer, I still have trouble accepting that I am afflicted with it. It's like I compartmentalize it and when my normal life is interrupted by my cancer life then I am faced with accepting it. I sometimes feel like I am Sunny the mom, wife, friend, aunt, sister, business owner and also the Sunny with cancer. Like two different people in one life. I am not crazy or suffering from split personalities but I think that many cancer patients feel this way. We try to stuff the cancer side of us and not let it interfer with the normal side of us.

For the past few weeks I have been reminded that I have a serious life threatening cancer. It sucks. I have been trying to spend the time that I am up and able to get around with the boys. It's hard to keep a normal family life when the glue to the family is fighting cancer. So I realize that as hard as it is at times I must always put them first even before my own recovery. So on days when I feel like I cannot lift my head off the pillow, I get up. On days when the pain is so bad that I bite in a wash cloth so they don't hear me scream, I force myself to put a smile on my face and go to their activities. I do homework with them, watch them play their sports, listen to them play their music and make everything that is important to them become important to me. Through doing that I have realized I probably would not fight this fight so hard if they were not part of my life. They inspire me to get up when I feel like I cannot.

With all that said I have decided to be inspired also by all the concerned emails, phone calls and letters I have gotten and post a week of inspirational quotes that have come with them. I did this a while back and it really picked me up and actually got me feeling better. The first one is as follows:

"The difficulties of life are intended to make us better not bitter".

This was found in a fortune cookie by my friend Karen. She emailed it to me the other day and said when she read it she thought of me. I am hoping because I am not bitter and she sees it is the way I try to get through my cancer journey.

My cancer has taken a tool on me physically to say the least. There are so many things in my life that I have taken for granted. The simple task of walking up stairs use to be no brainer, in fact I use to run bleachers as a form of exercise. Now I get to the bottom, take a deep breath and struggle up. Even sleeping at times is a painful act. But what this cancer has taught me is far more valuable then any physical disability it has given me.

I have become more compassionate, more courageous, more patient, more loving, more humble and kinder because of this cancer. I have learned that people are amazing and I could not survive without their support. I have found a strength in me that I never imagined I had deep inside. Without even knowing it I have taught my children what it means to never give up and if you work hard enough you can achieve whatever you want.....even life. I have taught Mark that love is more powerful then any evil that you may come across. And that nothing you love is worth losing because it to hard to keep.

The changes in my life have been incredible since cancer has struck me. I have no time to be "Bitter". I am enjoying being "Better".

"The difficulties of life are intended to make us better not bitter".