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.
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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
Friday, April 30, 2010
Also I am in Florida now for my follow-up with the Tampa Moffit Cancer Center as well as another dose of that new experimental chemo. Then I will be heading over to the east coast to spend the week with my mother, Mark and the boys. I absolutely love every minute I spend in little old Vero Beach, Fl. I have been to The Keys, Bahama's, Mexico, Jamaica and even Hawaii and have seen some of the most amazing beaches ever but nothing compares to the peace and relaxation I get in Vero. Its such a wonderful place to recovery from treatments and just spend time with my family.
In order to forget about the pain I started a new venture. I guess I should say I rekindled an old venture. I started up my photography studio business again above an amazing art studio, Le Bella's Art Studio. Opening the studio is by no means something that a thought I could ever do again or something that my husband ever wanted me to do again. But once again God puts people in your life and situations to overcome that truly can change you. My cancer has brought me and the owner of Le Bella's Art Studio, Debbie, together. Several years ago her infant daughter was diagnosed with another rare form of cancer. Debbie lives in our community so when she hard about my relapse she reached out to me. After a year of friendship she convinced me to keep my business going and encouraged me to reopen my studio in her building. It sounded great but I truly was not sure I could expand my business while putting my family and cancer first. I know that when I invest in my passion I invest 100% which was great before I got sick but not good when you are fighting for your life. I kept the idea in the back of my mind and once in a while entertained it. Then after months of Debbie working me another friend of my, April, approached me about her passion in photography and wanted to work in the industry. One thing lead to another and back to studio shooting I went. With so much support to back me up I am able to do what I love and still have time for those I love.
With all that is going on I am always able to remember how truly blessed I am. I look back to the day that I was told of my relapse and how far I have come. I have accepted my cancer but not accepted my fate with it. Mostly I know that I have so much support and will never be alone in this battle. Thank you.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
So to start off I had a double dose of treatments on Friday for the bone tumors. Normally I seperate these two different drugs by two weeks. But the nurse at the treatment center thought that I could handle both at once. Friday I was a little sick and exhausted, but Saturday I was able to shoot two sessions and go out that night with friends. Then on Sunday it all hit me and I've been in tremendous bone pain and sick to my stomach since then. After church on Sunday Ive been in and out of bed for the last three days.
Now I know I post a ton about my boys. I also know that I make them seem like these ideal perfect little angels. I can assure you and so can anyone that knows the Carney Boys well, that they are very typical wild boys. I am sure you are all tired of reading about them through my rose color glasses how perfect and wonderful they are. Well if that is the case then don't read on becaue I really need to post this about Nolan.
Anyways Nolan came home from school today and asked me before he even dropped his backpack on the floor, if my pain went away yet. Some kids come home from school and drop their junk and run out to play or run to their video game. But a child that has a parent with cancer has different anxieties. Of course like any mom with cancer I said, " its getting better". We then we went through his day and his homework and off he went to practice his hockey skills. I wobbled my way up the stairs to my master bathroom to take another pain med and hide for a while until those pills start to take the edge off. I could not help but start to cry and feel bad that Nolan only cares about how I am do. I hear a light tapping on the door so I hurry up and put the meds away wipe my tears and open the door. Nolan is standing there with this concerned look on his face. He reaches in his jean pocket and pulls out a small silver cross. He handed it to me. I asked him where he got this and why is he given it to me.
He began to tell me that I gave it to him before I left for Switzerland, but I could not remember. He continued to tell me that whenever he is upset or stressed he puts it in his pocket. This week is PSSA tests at his school and I guess I nagged way to much about how important these standardized test are. So he took the small cross off his dresser and has been carrying it around with him all week. I insisted that he keep it in his pocket because he will need it when he is taking his tests. But he kept handing back to me and finally said, "Mom, I will be fine if I know you are ok." He then told me if I hold it really tight maybe it will take my pain away.
I was completely speachless and surprised. I mean, I know that Nolan believes in God. We pray at dinner and at night. But I never knew he understood what it means to lean on God. I of course tell them about God, my faith and that all things are possible if you believe. But I never thought that they really got it. I guess I was wrong.
I took the cross and held it like he instructed me too. He smiled, gave me a hug and off he went to play hockey.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
1. Have surgery immediately to remove the new tumors and the organs that they are affecting.
2. Wait four weeks and get rescanned then re-evaluate. If the tumors are growing or have spread more, then have immediate surgery. The they remain stable then the choice of surgery is up to me. If the new experimental treatment shrinks them then I just save myself a surgery.
3. Do radiation therapy on the new tumors.
4. Go to Switzerland again to receive the last two treatments.
He kept his opinions to himself until I started to talk. He did not lean me towards any option even after I seemed confused. Mark and I asked several questions about each option but I think we already knew all the answers. We are now consider cancer veterans. We are no longer the scared uneducated cancer newbies we were in the beginning. Finally I said, "I think I want to go with option number two. I am going to wait and pray for four weeks and then get re-scanned.". He smiled at me and said, "I knew that is what you would choose....you always go for the quality of life thing." He reassured me that he thinks I will be fine to wait because the worse case scenario is that the cancer grows or spreads somewhere else and I have the surgery I had already expected.
So for now the surgery is postponed until further notice. I will continue on the magic pill which has been keeping many of the larger tumors stable and even shrunk a few. I will also continue my treatments at Hillman Cancer Center.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
"I think you read this book before you got sick. I remember you telling me to read it. In fact I think you brought me a copy". He held up the book and I noticed it was "The Purpose Driven Life", by Rick Warren. He was right, the first time I read the book was the year it came out in 2003 before I had my lung remove. I think I have read it about five more times since then. I did not say much because truthfully I was completely drained and just wanted to be alone. He got the hint and laid the book done open on the bed and left the room.
After putting a few baskets of clothes away, straighten up the room and getting ready for a good night sleep I sat on the bed and lifted the book to find it open to Chapter 4: "Made to Last Forever". I quietly read the chapter with out a pencil or highlighter but with an open heart. Like I have mentioned earlier I have read, took notes and highlighted this chapter many times but not until last night did I really get it. I even participated in a group Bible study for this book but I learned more last night then ever before. For those who don't have a copy of this book please get one, read it and keep it next to your bible for reference at times. The chapter, Made to Last Forever, was the perfect chapter for me to read last night before laying my head down to sleep. It gave me peace and understanding.
Rick Warren writes:
This life is not all there is. Life on earth is the dress rehearsal before the real production......Earth is the staging area, the preschool, the tryout for your life in eternity. It is the practice workout before the actual game; the warm-up lap before the race begins. This life is preparation for the next.
At most, you will live a hundred years on earth, but you will spend forever in eternity. Your time on earth is, but a small parenthesis in eternity. You are made to last forever.
......This life is preparation for the next. If you have a relationship with God, through Jesus, you don't need to fear death.
Just as I finished reading that chapter Mark walked back into the room holding his copy of the book. He asked me if I read my notes in the margin. I shook my head yes but I really did not read any of them I just nodded that I did. He turned to me and said, "you were who you are now, then. You understood life even before you had cancer." He continued by saying, "you say cancer changed you and opened your eyes to life. Your eyes were always"s open". We shut out the lights and waiting until he fell asleep before I turned on my small lamp to read my notes. I could not stand not knowing what I knew back then.
As I read my notes written in cursive, so that even my books looked pretty, I too was surprised. In the margins I wrote things like: "life on earth is just a blink compared to life in eternity", "the way you live your life here determines the way you live in eternity", "live as if today is your last day", "if you live for God and others you should never fear death" and "our life here is to be lived for God. Don't let your life be waisted....do for others". There were several other words I jotted down but those few stood out.
I am guessing it is time for me to listen to what I already know. I need to continue to live with all I have and let Him do His thing.