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



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update

Friday I was scheduled for a new treatment. Unfortunately after six pokes and three nurses they were unable to get a good vein to administrate the cocktail. I like when chemo is referred to as a cocktail because it makes me feel like I am part of a big party. I have had so many treatments given through my vein that scar tissue has built up in them making it difficult to get the needle through. So they wanted to set up an appointment for Monday to receive a port. I beg them to try one more day before putting a port in me.

With that said, on Monday Mark and I went back to Hillman Cancer Center to try again. I am happy to say with nine pokes and four nurses it was a success. I was able to receive the treatment and dodge the port. I have some side-effects (nausea, pain, fatigue and horrible headache), but all and all I am relieved I was able to receive the treatment.

However, on Friday when Mark and I got home from a long day I felt so defeated. I felt horrible that I waisted Mark's time. I started thinking about my obstacles and how they affect everyone in my family financially and emotionally. That evening Austen came into my room and sat down on my bed. He put his arms around me to give me a big hug and told me he was happy I made it to his basketball game earlier that afternoon. He had no idea what my day was like nor did he know that I needed his hug more then ever. Then, he handed me the comics from the Sunday paper and said, "Mom this comic is about you". I was so exhausted and I asked him to read it to me. He holds up the paper to shows me the picture, like I use to do with him when he was unable to read. It was a illustration of a funny looking woman in a superhero costume. He then began to reading the following:

Title: SUPER CAREGIVER

SUPERSONIC SIGHT: Knows immediately upon entering a room if anything has been moved. Can find anything anyone is looking for. (I think he added that)

SHAPESHIFTING: Can morphe from a cook to a nurse to a teacher with ease.

ABILITY TO MUTATE: Can transform an unholy mess into a clean room with amazing speed.

ICY STARE: Can freeze kids in their tracks and send chills down their spines. (not sure I agree with that).

ACCELERATED HEALING: Can cure a boo-boo with a mere kiss.

SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH: Can simultaneously carry an entire family on her shoulders.

He ended with saying again, "Mom that is you". At that moment I learned something from my thirteen year old son. I learned that me feeling sorry for myself is doing more harm to my family then this cancer can ever do. I learned that the person a steered at in the mirror just minutes before with tears running done my face is not the same person they see. They don't see the bags under my eyes, the paleness in my skin or the stress on my face. All they see is a super mom.

It seems like every time I start to feel like failure in this journey someone that I love is there to pick me up and make me feel needed. It just reinforces that I cannot let a stumble stop the fight. I can't give into this cancer because it's the easy thing to do. I must do whatever I can do so be my boys Super Hero.

Sunny

Friday, January 22, 2010

Poison

Today I will be receiving a new poison. I am praying this will help. Love the irony in that statement.



Sunny

Thursday, January 14, 2010

11 years old!

Today my baby turns 11.

Dear Nolan,

You are the light that brightens up this family. We would be lost without your smile everyday. We can always count on you for lighten up any situation with you sharp sense of humor. Your kind heart and giving spirit makes you the special person you are today. Where ever you go or who every you come across you manage to make them smile. I am so proud of you and will love you always.

Happy Birthday!
Mom

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's been over a week since I started the giving challenge. It's been an amazing. I hate to seem self-serving but I must be honest and admit that I know this is the best medicine for me. It feels so great to know that I am making someone feel good too. I have received several emails from others who seem to be feeling the joy that I am. Please if you have not started the giving challenge jump in and try.

I would love to hear from those who in the past week already feel a change coming. Email me and share your stories.

Sunny

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Giving Challenge

As promised in my previous post, I have an experiment that I would like everyone who reads my blog to participate in. As the Christmas seasons ends and the New Year begins I could not help but think about why this time of year is such a happy time for so many compared to the rest of the year. I believe it's the joy and feeling of worth we get when we give to others. I know for me, I enjoy nothing more then watching those I love open the special gift that I spent so much time to pick out. Especially when I give a gift to someone that is not expecting it. Sometimes I spend weeks or even months thinking about what I will be given to those on my Christmas list. I have had many of my friends offer to do my shopping for me this year, but that is the one thing about the Christmas season that I so look forward too. It was a little tougher this year, not because of the cancer, but because of a husband who worried every time I went out shopping alone. He said it was because of my health but I think it was really the packages I was caught sneaking in the house a few times. Whatever it was I did not let his anxiety stop my joy.

A few months ago I read a book titled "29 Gifts". The author, Cami Walker, was suffering severely from MS. She was deep in depression and tremendous pain. A friend and a spiritual counselor she was complaining to told her to stop focusing on herself and start giving to others. To sum it up that is what she did and in 29 straight days of giving she began to feel better. Before this project of generosity she was unable to work, walk or even get out of bed most days. After the month of straight giving her life turned around....even walking daily without a cane. When I finished the book I could not help but think what it would be like if everyone who has some kind of pain......physical or emotional.....would try this experiment.

I never thought much about the book after I closed it for the last time....until Christmas night. After all the gifts were opened and we were home from spending the day with family, my youngest said to me, "My favorite part of the day was seeing Dad open the gift I got him" . I don't even remember what gift Mark opened was given by Nolan, but I know that it was special to Nolan. He felt the joy of giving. I once again was a proud mom. I have never allowed my boys to do list for Christmas or cut out picture of things they are expecting. However, I do get hints right after Thanksgiving. When they start talking about what they want I, like most moms, give them the same, "it's not about getting, it's about giving". I know through them feeling the joy of giving is not something I can force or lecture into them. They just need to experience it. Nolan did that this Christmas. So it got me thinking about the book I read.

I am going to start my days of giving. I would like all those who are going through a struggle or a tough time to give with me. However, I want to change it a tad bit. I don't want to put a time limit on the giving. I would like to see how many days in a row those who are participating can give. The giving can be at all levels but it must be conscious giving. For example it could be holding the door for someone, buying a coffee for another, sending a kind note to a friend, giving a flower to a stranger or much larger. The catch is if you miss a day of conscious giving then you must start over the counting. Cami Walker suggested that you jot down your daily gift or even journal about it. I on the other hand feel better just stealth giving. But whatever works for you. Maybe even share your experience by emailing me.

I would love to hear from anyone who is participating and the changes that have occurred in their life. Or maybe the difference that you made in someone's life. I have no way of repaying all the gifts and blessing that have been given to me, but this will be one way I can pay it forward. Let's keep the spirit of the holiday all year through.

Sunny

P.S. After telling Mark about this experiment he thought I was going crazy or had to many pain pills. I have not done either. I just want everyone to experience the joy that I have gotten this Christmas. It can not do anything but bring good feelings.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflecting

So the Christmas season is over and a new year, decade, is beginning. Last night before ringing in the new year, I felt such an overwhelming set of emotions come over me. Tears just flooded my eyes and I had no idea why. I started reminiscing about New Years Day 2009 and what my life was like this time last year. Mark and I were packing up our bags and heading to Switzerland on January 2nd. Not knowing what to expect, how we were paying for it, and what the outcome would be. We just knew that we had to try it and felt lead to go this path. As I sit and ponder about it now I cannot help but remember what we were going through then. Although I was acting strong and fearless about my European treatments and my destiny, I now know that deep down inside I was trembling with fear. I was just petrified about what was going to happen to me and my family. I stood strong and confident about my decision to pursue experimental treatments in a foreign land but as I look back it was all an act. I was fearing for my mortality and my families welfare. I knew that this treatment was a huge financial burden on my family and was concerned that it was all a farce. Mainly, I never thought I would be around to see 2010. Yes I finally admit I did not thing I would be living today. But I knew that I had to do this treatment for my children and other carcinoid patients.

Last night as Mark and I spent a quite night at home with the boys and some of their friends it all hit me. Mark looked at me and said, "I can not believe everything we did this year. We went through more things in 2009 then other families go through in a life time. All because you decided to fight with all you have to be here today." We then talked about how scared he was last year and that he never thought I would be here now. He then continued to tell me that he had to pretend he was not scared because I was so brave and confident. At the end of the conversation, which was interrupted by a group of boys wrestling, I could not lead him on anymore. I admitted to him that I was a frighten little girl and never thought I would see 2010 either. Here I sit blogging away as I listen to my boys laughing together in the next room. I am not the same person I was this time last year. I have changed both physically and mentally. I am sicker, yes, but I have a peace about my destiny now. I have hope.

As many of you have showed me I'm a goal oriented person. Up until my battle I thought that everyone was like that. This year I am setting only one resolution or goal: STAY ALIVE! However I do have a little experiment that I would like everyone who reads this blog to take part in. I will post that tomorrow. Hint though it's about gifts. We all like gifts, right?

I would like to end this post for tonight so that I can go and enjoy whatever it is the boys are cracking up over in the next room. Tomorrow I will give you the details of my experiment. I hope you all participate with me. I believe great joy and peace will come to you if you do. Until then.

Happy New Year,
Sunny