SUNNY CARNEY
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



Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank you


Thank You, God, for little things that often come our way –
The things we take for granted
But don’t mention when we pray –
The unexpected courtesy, the thoughtful, kindly deed –
A hand reached out to help us in the time of sudden need –
Oh make us more aware, dear God, of little daily graces that come to us with “sweet surprise” from never dreamed of places.
Helen Steiner Rice

 I wanted to share this poem to all those who have reached out and touched my life.  A friend of mine sent me this poem and I had this need to share it with everyone.  I am feeling so thankful today and needed to let everyone who has been part of my journey in some way or another know that I truly appreciate everything.  I could not of expressed how blessed I feel any better.  Of course I am no Helen Steiner Rice.  

Just wanted to share,
Sunny

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ashamed

I spent the day today fighting with my insurance company because they refuse to cover a chemotherapy medicine because it is not FDA approved for carcinoid cancer.  However, there has been several hundred proven cases that this medicine has been very successful in shrinking carcinoid tumors in patient..... me included. I would go into the specifics about the med and the reasons HighMark gave me for not covering it but that is not the purpose of my post tonight. After battling for hours and being on hold for even more time then that, I became very frustrated and extremely miserable to everyone that crossed my path. As I was cleaning the kitchen mess from tonight's dinner all three boys came into the kitchen one at time asking me if I could help them study for a few tests that each one of them have tomorrow.  I of course said yes but really deep down dread sitting down all night studying Civics, Earth Science, Algebra, Advanced English, Social Studies and whatever else with three boys that know more then I do on these subjects. I started quietly complaining to Mark that my day was terrible and my night seems to be going on the same path.  I could feel the "Nasty Sunny" just climbing inside of me ready to burst out on someone.  I needed to "get my needs met" as Mark calls it but the only ones that deserve a "Sunny Smackdown" were the insurance "who knows" that declined my medicine. Truthfully I don't know where to find those people. 

Mark turned the stereo on in the house and turned it to this contemporary Christian station that I sometimes listen to when I am getting everyone out the door in the morning. I think he thought I needed a little God in me.  It's not the station of choose for my "rock n roll" boys but it has an hour of  inspirational stories on in the mornings that I like the boys to hear as they moan about getting up and going to school.  As I was slamming the dishes in the dishwasher for the third time today a woman called into the station asking for prayer.  The woman's neighbor had just lost her 15 year old son.  He was playing football and got hit in the chest during a tackle.  My heart just sank for her.  I literally stood there motionless for a minute or two. I don't know this woman or even what State she lives in but I felt this horrible heart ache come over me for her.  I almost wished I did know her so I could reach out and someway comfort her.  But truly nothing anyone can do will comfort her right now.  Having three teenage boys myself I could not imagine her pain.  Mark came into the kitchen and asked me if I heard the story on the radio.  By the look on my face he knew I heard it.

I feel so self-centered and self-absorbed.  I am so consumed sometimes with my own battle for life that I don't realize that so many others are hurting too. Sure I pray for people every night.  I have a list in my Bible by my bed of everyone that needs pray.  I pray for everyone on that list but I then go on about my problems. I know that we all do this so.... it's not just me.  I am just admitting it right now. However, I can not help to think right now does it matter to this woman that just lost her son, that the kitchen is a mess again for the third time in one day?  What she would do to study just one more time with her son?  So I spent the day fighting with my insurance company and losing the fight.  I had the day to do that.  Yes it may cost me more money or add to my bills but I have my life and most of all my sons.  I have never really thought of my self as selfish but maybe that's because selfish people don't really see themselves that way.  All I know is that I feel like hanging my head in shame.  I have no right to complain.  I may be fighting this battle of cancer but I have been so very blessed through the entire journey.

I never listen to the radio at that time of the day.  Usually when I am cleaning the kitchen..... wait I don't always clean the kitchen after dinner, the boys do that.  I don't want to say that it was a "shape up Sunny" sign from God but at that time it sure was what I needed.  There is always someone in this world that has things rougher then the next.  I am ashamed of my nastiness, but mostly of thinking that my problems are more important or more urgent then anyone else's problems.  I was complaining and whining about meds not covered, time wasted all day, studying with the best boys ever, cleaning a kitchen and who knows what else while there is a woman that is out there somewhere planning a funeral for her 15 year old son.  Ashamed I am. 

I think Mark thought he knew what I was thinking by the expression on my face.  He looked at me and said, "we are so lucky that our boys are with us right now".  That is not what I was thinking, however.  I was thinking, "I need the 'Sunny Smackdown' and I need to bow and thank God for this day.  No matter what happen".

Sunny

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I gave it up

As many of you know Monday I had a CT scan of the liver to determine if the torture, chemo-embolization, I went through in August actually did something to the tumors in the liver.  Yesterday was my appointment with Dr. Tsung, who replaced Dr. Gamblim, where we look at the scans and talk about the next steps.  On Sunday night I really made up my mind that I would not let these next two days get the best of me.  I prayed about them and then truly put it in His hands.  You see I have never heard words from any of these doctors that there is positive and noticeable shrinkage in any of the tumors.  More times then I want to remember I have heard that the cancer is growing quicker then they would like or that new tumors are popping up everywhere.  I have gotten the sad eyes with  the hand on my shoulder and the doctor standing above me, because for some reason they think that standing above me when they are telling this bad news makes it real.  Not sure.  One time a few months after my second trip to Switzerland a doctor told me that he thinks he may see a little shrinkage but not enough to tell. I am not sure if he was just saying that because he wanted me to feel okay about putting all the money we had plus a second mortgage on the line to receive these treatments or if he thought there was some shrinkage.  Whatever the case it started growing shortly after that appointment.  I have also heard that the tumors have remained stable, only to hear a few months later they have been growing again. However, I have always kept hope that all these treatments and crazy drugs I am taking will do something.  Every appointment I go in ready to see smiles on the doctors faces when they enter the room instead of the usual practiced somber look.   

Yesterday, was that day.  Dr. Tsung came into my room with his usual entourage of nonspeaking med students beaming from ear to ear.  He hopped in his seat and began asking me details about how I am feeling.  I started telling him all my complaints, which frustrates the hell out of me because I have already went over it with three other white coat people, and he looked like he was going to burst and was really not listen to me.  So I finally said something like: lets just get to the results first and then I'll start complaining.  So he let it out like it was the first time he ever got to tell someone this, "It shrunk. The big one that I was worried about shrunk. It's almost half the size."  He is young for a specialist and my verdict is still out on him.  However I found his excitement quite cute and humbling.  I was in shock, even though I had hoped. I guess I just thought I would  not hear it this way. 

He continued on, in a much more professional and stellar manner, about how its only one that shrunk out of several several other very major tumors in my body so I cannot get my guard down or even take a break on the treatment.  I had to stop him because trust me I am never quitting and said, "let's just enjoy this moment doc." He laughed and in his accent shook his head and said, "YA YA WE ENJOY". 

We talked about my surgery in Dec. and my Jan. Houston treatment trip. He gave me the lecture about this does not mean you are out of the woods.  But I think he said, "OOODS".  But truly it all went over my head. I stood up and grabbed his shoulder this time and said, "listen something is working, even if its just a little.  Lets just enjoy that and not worry." I looked over a Mark who had tears rolling down his face.  His tears I have seen so many times lately but this time they were tears of relief and happiness.  Doc noticed too and said his good byes to leave us alone. Not much said at that moment except a quit, "it was all worth it."


This morning I had to take Nolan to the doctors.  On the ride to the office he starting talking about the results of yesterday.  He then said to me, "mom does this mean you are better?" . I told him no but it means that my fight is working and it just proves that nothing is impossible.  He then asked me if the other day when were all in the car did I listen to the words of  that song that was on the radio about imagining seeing God?  I told him that I loved that song.  He then said, "I've been thinking about that song for a couple of  days and thought that would be like you when you see God. Mom, you would be in awe and not be afraid".   Yes that is exactly how he said.  Of course I was speechless and he broke the silence with, "but it wont be for a while now".  He continued the conversation by asking if I remember when he and I were watching the sunrise and I told him that I was not afraid to die.  I do remember that and  I blogged about it.  He then softly added, "Mom that is why God answered my prayers on Sunday night.  He still needs you here for us.  He does not want you to want to go to heaven too soon.". All I could do is shake my head yes and turn the radio up.  Thankfully we were listening rock.

Truly the past four days, including today, shows the rollercoaster

Thank you for your prayers.

Sunny

By the way the Song he was talking about is "I Can Only Imagine", by MercyMe

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I remember when

Tomorrow is liver scan day and we will know if the chemo-embolization that I went through a few months ago attacked the tumors in the liver. I am a few weeks behind on this scan because I was having insurance issues again and really did not need to add to my mountain of medical bills on my dinning room table.  It took me a few weeks to fight that blah blah blah of an insurance company but finally they agreed to pay.  It's great to have such wonderful doctors because as soon as I called them on Friday to tell them I won the insurance battle I was slid in for my scan first thing Monday morning.  Getting an appointment for a CT scan so quickly is  kinda unheard of now a days so I am truly lucky. Mark has a client meeting, that I refused to let him cancel, so I am going alone. 

As I plan for my day tomorrow I thought about how a year and a half ago going to a scan by myself was impossible for me. Never did I imagine I would ever be in a place that I was relaxed enough to take that on.  Although, according to a few doctors they would of bet I would not be here today to attempt it. A year ago I would start thinking about the scan two days before and then obsess over the results. I would beg and beg God for good results or even just keep things the way they were. Asking Him over and over again not to give me anymore because I was not sure I could handle it.  Then when I would get some not so positive news I would obsesses over what to do about it.  Today I went to the calendar to see what tomorrow would bring and there it was, written in pink highlighter because a pen was nowhere to be found when the doc called,  the word SCAN 10 AM.  I had completely forgotten about it and not once this whole weekend did I think of the "what if's".

I remember when everything was riding on the results of the scans.  It was if life stopped or took a pause from the time the scan was scheduled to the time I sat in the little room a few days later waiting to see the expression on the doctor's face.  It's not like that anymore.  Some might say its because I have been fighting for so long that I am use to it.  I have to disagree with that because you never get "Used To" living with cancer.  Others would say it's because I block it out.  I am not sure if I block it out or just don't let IT, the cancer, take over my life. I over heard someone who knows me well, or at least thinks they know me well, at the Miles for Smiles 5k that I am finally accepting my cancer.  Well I know that is not the case because I will never accept this monster or become content with it living inside of me. I know that whatever the results maybe I can handle it.  I may not be happy and even may shed a tear or two but because of the support I have I can deal with whatever it is the doctor tells me. 

Tuesday I have an appointment with my liver oncologist and the only thing I am worried about is making it home in time to get dinner on the table for the boys.  We have a hectic evening of sports and homework planned.  The thought of worrying about the "what if" it's growing still is the last thing on my mind. I refuse to give cancer that much credit. I am POSITIVE it's because I have faith that whatever it may be God will be with us.  Please keep me in prayers that I continue to have peace in whatever is to come.

Sunny