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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Continuation from yesterday

After reluctantly posting yesterday's blog I felt the weight of the world was off me. At least until Tuesday when I meet with my main oncologist. I went to my bedroom to get some sleep only to find Mark laying on his side of the bed with a book across his chest and his hands over his eyes. Trying to quickly and quietly slip back out of the room I held my breath and slowly turned towards the door. The thought of rehashing our conversation a few hours ago was just to much for me to bear. I almost made it out of the room when he spotted me and said, "I'm reading your book, I can not believe your notes in the margin. When did you write this stuff." I did not know what book he was talking about nor did I want to engage in any kind of conversation. I read a ton and always write notes or highlight things I like in my books. I shook my head and tried really hard to escape out the room but he continue to engage in conversation.

"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 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.