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, February 2, 2010

Faithfully Giving

It's been almost a month now since my January 3rd post where I challenged everyone to start consciously giving. I love hearing stories about how amazing it feels to go out of your way to make someone else happy. It seems through the stories that the simplest acts of kindness has brought the most rewards to others. I have been touched the most by those who have told me anonymous act of kindness and how wonderful they felt after it.

Having cancer in the bones and liver I am often in relentless pain. I have learned to refocus my mind most of the time to relieve most of the pain but there are times when it can be so intense that nothing I do can even take the edge off. Once the pain starts to go out off control it can take me days sometimes weeks to get it back in control. However this month several times I began to notice that whenever I turned my thoughts to others instead of dwelling on myself, I experienced an incredible sense of control over my circumstances and pain. I even noticed that recently my entire well-being has improved. I have been laughing more and making others laugh more. I have had several occasions this month when I have laughed until actual tears have streamed down my face.

One of the most difficult aspects of living with cancer in the bones is the immense pain in the morning. It almost always wakes me up before the sun is up. Starting my day I try everything to function somewhat normally before the kids get up so I can get them out the door for school. I usually wake Mark up because I am in such agony just trying to get in a hot shower. Sometimes he hears me crying from the pain and he jumps out of bed hoping that something he could do will shut me up. At least once a week he is awaken by the sound of a bottle of pain meds hitting the floor because my hands are so weak I can not even open the child safety lid; my crazy Irish temper thinks that slamming them on my bedroom's hardwood floor will do the trick. So I decided to try something at night to see if my mornings go smoother. Before turning in each night I write down a name of someone I want to do something nice for. I then start to think of something I could do for that person. It might be as simple as call someone I have not spoken to in awhile, say a long prayer for someone, send someone an email telling them how special they are or even buying someone a gift. Just the other day, Mark said to me, "Sun, I have noticed you have been sleeping in until it's time to get Austen up. How is your pain been in the morning? Are you taking something different?" Sleeping until 6:20 A.M. is huge in for me. That is when I realized that just thinking about giving has improved my life and that this challenge is changing me.

Last Monday I had an appointment for the second try with my treatment. I mentioned my new found approach of living positive with cancer to one of my favorite nurses. She too is a cancer survivor. She told me that my discovery was supported by both The Word of God and medical science. She explained to me that doing for others releases endorphins which are the body's natural painkillers. When your mood is good and you are happy the endorphins help your pain. Studies have actually proved that volunteers, devoted givers and those that dedicate their lives to helping others lead happier, healthier and longer lives. She continued to tell me that is why when she went in to remission and decided to come back to work she requested this department. She gave me a big hug and whisper in my ear, "every time you are here your attitude changes me. You are a gift to me." Her kind words helped me relax and the needle finally went in one of my veins. An example of the circle of given.

Since I realized that giving is not just benefiting those receiving, but has really changed my cancer journey I have been feeling better. I have not taken a strong pain medication in at least three weeks. I can go all day with just one morning 600 mg of Ibuprofen. I have come to understand through my silly project I have changed my battle into a life of happiness. I am going to continue this little project because it is not a challenge anymore but a great way of living.

Keep giving,

Side Story

This past Friday was a prime example of how this project works. I was horribly sick during the day and once again started to climb the mountain of pain. My mood started to go down and I just felt plain old yucky from the treatments I received earlier in the week. I made up my mind that I was going to skip Austen's basketball game, skip the get together with friends afterwards and just go to bed as soon as my home full of people cleared out. That morning before Austen left for school I told him I would not be going to the game because the new treatment was just kicking my butt. He looked at me with his great big blue eyes and said, "Mom if you don't give to anyone today you may have to give to me and come anyways. Otherwise you will have to start all over on your project". He's been hearing about my project all month and I was surprised it took him this long to use it against me. I spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself and moping around. Yes, I do that sometimes. Then at about 2:45 the phone rang and it was Austen's school on the caller ID. After hardly saying hello I heard my teenage boy on the other end laughing. He said to me, "Mom did you give today?" Not letting me answer, "If not I will see you in about an hour" and click went the call. So of course I got dressed, tried to make myself look like I am not fighting for my life and off I went with Mark and my other boys to the game. After the game we went out with some of my favorite people. I must say the night ended with me laughing so hard that I cried and forgetting totally about how I felt a few hours earlier. I did not get to bed until way past midnight because after coming home Mark and I stayed up and laughed some more. I felt so normal.