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
Monday, June 28, 2010
Although I have been trying extremely hard to ignore the signs God has truly been knocking on my inspiration door, He makes it impossible and once again reminds me I cannot do this journey alone. In the past few weeks I have had the most unusual inspiring people reach out to me. Without going into all the details I have been approached in the most unusual places, have had emails written to me and even have gotten a few phone calls from others that have inspired me to keep going with my battle but mostly keep updating and writing my blog. So tonight that is what I am going to do. I am going to update everyone on my battle, continue to get the word out about this rare cancer and try to help others know that they are not alone in whatever battle they are going through.
Tomorrow I will be under going another PET scan. I am not due for my regular scheduled progress scan for another month and 1/2 but I have had some unusual changes in my conditions so my oncologist decided to up that time to see what's going on. Yesterday a friend of my asked me if I was nervous about the scan or the results. When I told her that I really don't think about scans or results anymore she was completely surprised. Later that day when I was driving home from my hour and half ride from my Austen's baseball game my mind went back to my conversation with my girlfriend. I began to think that maybe its not normal for me not to have anxiety about my scans, my results or even my cancer. I questioned my honesty to others and myself and wondered if deep down am I just trying to pretend that I am NOT worried. After thinking hard and almost forcing myself to feel some type of solicitude I was quite sure I am not worried about any of it.
Not being afraid of my cancer, my scan tomorrow or the results of the scan does not mean I don't care about my battle. Trust me I care more then I care about anything, because this disease effects everyone I love.....not just me. However, I truly have in the Lord's peace. I am not saying that this peace I am feeling means that I believe that tomorrow scans are going to show no growth or even no cancer. Nor do I believe that I am going to be miraculously cured by one splash of blessed holy water or the hands of some Evangelist that claims to have the power of healing. However, I do strongly believe that if that is what God wants that to happen then it will. My peace is that God will not leave me and what the outcome may be my faith will get me through. I know that through the power of pray and with a true open heart to the Holy Spirit I can get through whatever the results bring. Now, am I hoping for the best? HELL YA, but I have true have peace.
I have seen first hand some amazing things happening because of my journey. I have seen great change in my life and in my families life. As I stated several times in my blog if I could have one wish it would be to take this cancer away from me. However, the past two years of my battle have been the most meaningful and life changing experience for all those I love I would never give them back. They have taught me what having true faith in God and giving all my adversity to him feels like. That is where my peace comes from.
So tomorrow when I lay in that tube for a few hours with an IV in my arm I am going to spend that time in peace and thanking God for that peace.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The last couple of weeks have been very difficult for me physically. I am assuming the cancer is growing again because of how I have been feeling. I scheduled scans for the end of June so I will know what's going on then. In the meantime, I need to stay strong in faith. This neuroendrocrine cancer is so strange. At one point it seems to be taking over my whole body and the pain is so incredible I can bearly stand it. I become dizzy and sick to my stomach like its the worse flu you could ever imagine. Then a few days later I am feeling great. I have talked to my oncologist about these happenings but he really has no answers because its such a rare and difficult cancer. So I joke with him and tell him to take notes so that when his other carcinoid patients tell him the same thing he can assure them its normal.
The last couple of weeks have been much like this. I have been feeling like crap for a few days and then I feel better. Friday, for example, I started to feel a little under the weather. I had blood work done and my counts where off. I continued to do what I always do to get on with life and then Friday evening it hit me. The pain was so intense that I could hardly focus. I kept Mark up most of the night with him feeling so helpless trying everything he could think of just to help me fall asleep. Saturday I had a wedding that I was contracted to photograph and up until I got to the bride's home I was completely unsure I could get through it. But through God's will and many prayers I spent eight hours Saturday popping pain meds and photographing a beautiful event. Of course Sunday I was a complete mess. Still in horrible pain and sick from the pain meds that don't work anyways. I knew at that point that my prayers need help, so I asked my facebook friends to pray for me. The response was amazing.
After another sleepless night last night I am starting to feel my way on the upswing. I am not completely feeling 100%, I am not sure I even know what feeling 100% feels like, but I know that because of my faith and prayers from others I am getting through this journey. I had someone say to me the other day that they don't believe that there is a GOD. I love this person but felt so sorry for them. I don't know how you can look around this amazing world and not believe in The Big Guy Above. I don't know how someone whose been with me through this battle can not see what God has done in my life dispite this cancer. I want to thank everyone who reads my blog and have reached out to me. I am so blessed to have you all in my corner. I know that in a few days I will be the "Sunny" you all know. Keep praying and please keep believing.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This week I started looking into other options and I am overwhelmed by the whole process. After hours and hours on the Internet and more hours on the phone I am tired of the doors that are being slammed on me and my family. With private insurance cost outrageous and almost impossible for us to afford and non private have so many bizarre circumstances that I don't think we will qualify I am at a lost at what to do. I spoke with our Senators office today and was told to apply for government insurance however when I called to get information on it I was told that I was not qualified and my children will have to go uninsured for four to six weeks before they will start the process.
Through this whole cancer journey I have never felt so defeated. I have been told that I had six months to live, told that my only hope for any chance to extend my life was crazy European treatments, undergone several experimental treatments and procedures, have hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical bills and I would stand on my head for a month if they told me it would help destroy this cancer growing inside of me. I have undergone horrific treatments that has got me so sick as well as put me through horrible pain and have not had positive results. Scan after scan after scan with results never on my side and I have always found hope in this hopeless situation. Nothing has made me feel that I am losing this battle until today. I just feel so overwhelmed with all this insurance bullshit and scared that I have no options. I am asking for all you who follow my blog to please rich deep down and pray for me and my family. I know that if I leave this problem in God's hands he will take care of it. However, for the first time in this long cancer voyage I am struggle with that because I am scared.
Please keep me in your prays this week that this will all work out. I am also open to any knowledge that anyone can share with me regarding insurance options.
“Prayer is the key to Heaven, but faith unlocks the door.” I've been praying and praying... Now I'm trying to keep the faith that everythying will work out.
Friday, June 4, 2010
The last week has been a bitter sweet week for me. Tuesday I had a double treatment which has been really tearing me apart physically. The boys are ending another school year which has been tearing me up emotionally. I love my summers home with them in fact I love them home any time with me. Also, I am thrilled that I am here to see my boys move on to another year in school because after my diagnosis I was told that I would never see these days. Mostly I am so proud of each one them and the accomplishments they have made this school year. But like any mother, with or without cancer, I am sad that my babies are moving closer to not needing me anymore. They are one year older and one year smarter. Soon they will not need me to study with them or help them with that ridiculously difficult project that no child does ALL BY HIMSELF. Each year they are growing more independent and self sufficient. The need for "MOM" is quickly going away and the need for friends is replacing me. The little blue eyed freckle face boys are now growing up to be handsome teenagers with girls following behind them. Their hugs that use to knock me over are becoming more of a light quick tap from a boy that is taller then me now. Bitter sweet in so many ways.
However on Friday my two youngest participated in a school talent show and it reminded me how I can still share in their joy without always being needed. They are officially musician now with Logan banging on drums and Nolan jamming on his electric guitar, sometimes Austen joins in on drums and keyboard. After this last diagnosis and the grim news that the doctors told me of my destiny, I joined them up for lessons so that they would have something they can do that will bring them together if I was not here to force it. Never in my wildest dreams though did I ever imagine that they would actually sound amazing enough in a year in a half to preform together in front of almost 500 of their peers. All I can add is that they rocked the house with the children chanting more more more. They ended up playing four songs with Logan flipping his drum sticks and spinning on his stool and Nolan playing behind his back and sliding across the floor. As Mark and I sat in the back of the school auditorium holding hands we both had tears rolling down our face and for once my husband was completely speechless. The pride in Mark's eyes was worth a million dollars to me.
As I stood in the back listening to their final rendition of "Born to be Wild" and watching the front of the stage covered with their classmates dancing and chanting their names I realized what cancer has done for our family. I felt reconfirmed that my fight may not 100% be for Mark and the boys anymore because they are going to be okay now without me. But that this battle I am is now for ME. I cannot miss my children's accomplishments as they go through their life. I have worked so hard to make these wild boys into amazing teenagers and it is now my time to sit back and enjoy me good work. The whole day I felt like I was walking on a cloud. Those boys that sat on our couch a year and a half ago clinging to me with rolling tears down their baby faces as we told them "THE NEWS" of mommies illness are fine now. They are strong and ready to tackle the world with me just slightly leading them in the right direction. They overcame my cancer and actually learned from my battle. They will be okay when the day comes.
Me on the hand, needs to be here to see them experience the grandest of life. I need to see their smiles so big that their faces hurt. Cancer has taught us that days like Friday is a battle won as we fight this war. This again is the "Good in Cancer". My boys have learned that if they give something their all and not quit on your dreams they can accomplish anything. But more importantly they have learned to lean on each other and work together. I understand that a song does not work with out all the instruments and a family does not work without each other. That night Nolan came up to me and said, "Mom, thanks for getting me lessons. I know that it is expensive and you worry about paying for them......but thanks." They are starting to get that living is more then just having a life......living is making the most of that life.
Sorry for the delay in post and I promise you this week I will catch everyone up on my "Cancer" battle. I really just had to share the "Good in Cancer" to remind myself that quitting is not an option.