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
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, December 31, 2010
Before I started to post I went back to the post that I wrote this time in 2009. Reading it reminded me how far I have come with this cancer in just one year. As I am going through this journey on a day to day basis it seems so consuming. With each appointment, treatment, surgery, new researching, scan and then the news it is hard to look at the big picture. That is why I am so glad that I started this blog. I am able to go back and reflect on the changes that have really happened. Last year at this time I did not know about the new experimental treatment that I am attempted at the end of January. The surgery seemed like a hopeless attempt to keep my leg. And truthfully I was not sure I would be here writing today.
That is why I must say that once again I feel so blessed. Over and over again I am told by those who love me, my friends and doctors that my unusual strength and fight is what is keeping me alive. I have had comments made to me that, "I keep getting back up every time I'm knocked down", or "I wont go down without a fight" and on and on. Just yesterday Logan and Nolan had a conversation with me about how tough I am. At my last appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Friedland, he came into the room as I was reading a Joyce Meyers book titled, "Never Give Up" and he took the book from my hands. He looked at it and said, "you don't need this, you'll never quit". I have to admit, I am quite humbled by all those comments and I want to start 2011 off by letting everyone know that I am NOT special. My choice to fight it not unusual and it is not something that I do on my own. I don't have some super strength or power. In fact there are so many other people fighting cancer that are tougher then I will ever be. But first and foremost what I do have that unfortunately others have not found is the Lord with me during every battle with this cancer. Every time I am at my lowest point and I think I cannot do one more treatment, one more surgery or one more appointment I truly pull my strength through God and pray. He gives me the ability to pull something out of somewhere and gets me or US (my family) through it. He gives me the peace I need and the knowledge continue on the journey.
So 2011 for me is going to be about making a difference like so many have made a difference in my life. Its going to be about reaching out to those who battle what I am battling but don't know where to get their strength from. When I say, "battle what I am battling", I don't mean just cancer, I mean adversity. I want to somehow express that if you give yourself and your problems to Him then He will give you the strength to fight it. I don't think God will always wipe your problems away because you have faith in Him. In fact if I look back since my diagnosis my struggles have tripled since then. However, I think he gives you the peace and the tools to climb the mountain. He puts you in situations and gives you people to help you through your troubles. This year I am still keeping my last years goal of FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE but I am adding a new ending.....I am FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE WITH A PURPOSE.
Happy New Year,
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Today's post I want to dedicate to my son Logan. When the surgery was scheduled my goal was to be home from the hospital for his birthday today. I feel so blessed that I am here and got to wrap my arms around him. We had a little mini celebration for Logan last night because his present was Penguin game tickets for him and Mark for tonight. As I wrapped a few some gifts from his brothers and ordered his favorite Oakmont Bakery Cake for Mark to pickup yesterday I thought about how truly blessed I am to have him and his brothers to motivate me everyday to fight this monster. I woke Logan up this morning with my usual, "wake up, wake up, it's your B-day......." song that they use to love when they were little but totally annoy them now. Got some help downstairs to be there for breakfast that my mom was making and despite the pain I felt like it was my B-day.
Its days like these that keep me going. Its the memory of the day I held him for the first time. The hopes and dreams that I had for me as a mother. If I look back at the past 13 years I never imagine they would be so rough for us but I did imagine that I would be here to celebrate his day on Dec. 15, 2010. I also knew that the baby I held 13 years ago for the first time would be as fantastic as he is today. So maybe my "Normal Rockwell" moment on December 15, 1997 did not lead to the exact "Normal Rockwell" moment today that I dreamed, it could not be any better. He left this morning with a smile on his face right next to his big brother excited about the rest of his life. What more can I of wish for 13 years ago?
Happy Birthday my deep thinking, kind hearted, athletic, musical talented, smart and handsome teenager. I am so glad I am here to see this day.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I have to share a little story with you which I am hoping by posting this story I will get some peace about tomorrow. You know how you wish you God would sometimes just smack you right on the head to tell you exactly which way to go? The question that I am sure many of you ask, "what is God's will?" is simple to ask but the answers don't always seem to be simple to find. Well, last week I went to my regular Oncologist to get a check before the surgery. I had noticed a few days before that the pain in my hip and leg was much better. In fact there was a few times that I could take two steps at a time and sit like an Indian with no pain. So of course I insist that my doc give me another scan or x-ray just to make sure that the bones had not improved before I go through this surgery. As much as I love Dr. Friedland I have to say sometimes I have to give a little kick in the butt. After much convincing from me he did a quick x-ray. Later he come into the room were I waited and showed me that it actually has gotten worse. So I left a little heartbroken, stop in the bathroom to shed a few tears, and went home.
However, that evening I still felt uneasy about the whole surgery. At times I can be so stubborn when I think I am right. I could not sleep and kept thinking of way to to get out of this surgery. I then closed my eyes and just prayed. I prayed with such passion that God show me a sign, a sign I would noticed, that I am make the right decision about this surgery. I finally fell asleep only to wake up a few hours latter to horrific pain in my leg in hip. The pain was beyond anything I had every had. It was breathing taking. I screamed and Mark jumped out of bed next to me to try to help. Nothing he did and nothing I took helped. For the first time in my life I got God's sign as clear as I needed.
I am not sure why I was doubting this surgery. I hate to think it was fear. Whatever, it is I surely should of seen what He was telling me all along. The othro oncologist is amazing. Several of my friends have heard of him and rave about him. He even saved the leg of my good friend's daughter when she was suffering from a rare cancer. Once again the out pour of help with the kids I am offered is amazing. My family all pitch in to arrange schedule of when they will be staying with me. The Christmas shopping is done, the house is clean and the decorations are beautiful. Mark is at complete peace. And the pain is still there. The phone calls from friends and family today has been super uplifting. Not to mention my full email box of prays and the facebook wishes are bringing tears to my eyes. Everything has been going so smoothly.
So there is no reason for me to have anxiety or fear. Fear of the unknown or what is come is a waste of time. I know that God has me at his side. Please pray for me in the next couple of weeks.
“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Since I've been sick it has been were Mark, the boys and I go to escape my cancer life. Only my family and a few of my mom's neighbors know that I am sick. The boys get to be together without any distractions, by the end of the week they have had enough of each other though. But it has also been a measure of how my cancer has progressed. I try not to compare each trip but its almost impossible to do. I have noticed that over the past two years my health and ability to do things has declined. At home I don't notice as much because we just go on and I do everything I can. In Vero I look back on the trips before and what we have also done before. The last few trips have been an eye opener to say the least. I always went to see the sunrise alone and in the beginning I would take a quick run on the beach after the sun comes up. This trip and the trip before I actually waited for someone to step up and volunteer to go with me. I pretended that I did not need them but was relieved when they came. Running the beach was out of the question. In fact I tried to walk the beach one day and quickly realized that was not going to happen, AT THAT TIME. I spent more time in bed and was unable to eat much because I had an infection in my mouth. I did not swim in the pool and as you all know was to tired to even blog. The 19 hour drive was rough both to and home. However the whole time I was there I felt so blessed to be there.
The boys and mostly Mark tried hard to push me. I got angry at them one day and overheard Mark say to my mom that I am not being myself. Although they did not understand, I knew that I needed to rest so when the time came for me to really participate in something I could with my full heart. I probably could have done more and actually regret not reaching deep down and trying hard. But what I realized after I got home was I needed that rest. I needed that peace and I needed to be there for me. I don't think through this whole battle I have ever did anything JUST for me. Every treatment, every doctor appointment,every hour of research and every crazy "cancer trip" for that very important treatment has been for either my boys, my husband, my family or other carcinoid cancer patients. I am not trying to be self centered but I think God was saying to me, "rest". I have surgery coming up on December 10 and believe He was telling me to rest up to begin a new fight.
As I am writing this post I just heard on the television an interview with a terminal cancer patient. One thing she said, which I have always tried to say but it never sounded so simple, "When you are told you are dying you begin to live". To take it further, each day is a blessing and a gift. If it is spent with you children at the beach building cities or resting on the couch consider it a gift. I am not going to regret my lack of energy this vacation. I am going to make the best of what it was, a time for me. I have a few days before I go into the hospital and I will wrap that time up with the boys. Please keep me and my attitude in your prayers.