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
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I know that this will past because I have been here before. I am just asking for pray now. I truly believe that when times are tough you need to quit feeling sorry for yourself and pray for someone else. That is what I am doing, I am praying for all my carcinoid posse and I am asking you all to pray for me. God knows that I give this time to Him. Please keep me in your daily prayers.
I'll keep you posted.
Friday, July 16, 2010
No I am not filling in per her request, rather I asked if I could have the honor. Its purely a coincidence by the way that her last entry accurately portrayed my blubbering confession that contrary to her thoughts, I have not mastered the art of raising three boys and a fat dog alone. I can't picture our family without its rock, its anchor, without Sunny at the helm of this household ship. So I don't. Or maybe I can't allow myself to. I feel like if I do, then I am letting her down, because if she can fight and go on and on then who am I to not have faith and believe that she will whip this disease. Who am I to doubt? So I may learn how to properly rack ladles in the dishwasher, or how to correctly fold a pair of Aerospotale(I think thats the brand) boys shorts, and I may have expanded my culinary expertise to include foods other than eggs, cheese, pop-tarts, and pbj's....but I can never have the mother instincts to know when or where to put a little pick me up note in one of my boys pockets at just that time when he is down....or how make the big guys favorite desserts(heck even to tell you what their favorite desserts are)...or how to make sure that they know you can never quit when things get tough. Those are all things that Sunny does. She has set the bar high.
No, I asked to write this entry because it has been a crazy week and I know she won't admit it outside of this house, but she is tired. Tired from the cancer physically and in a moment of frustration, tired mentally from the ongoing fight. But she knows she won't stop. Quit is a four letter word that gets you decent points in scrabble but doesn't exist in her world. Her bloodwork is all messed up but she goes on. I don't know how she does it, her doctor's call her an inspiration, but all she wants is to hear her boys call her mom.
Its fitting that this week began on Sunday with a surprise 80th birthday party for her mother. It was a themed party, the 1930's, and Sunny made sure our boys had the perfect costumes, that she looked just right as a voluptous siren, and that I didn't bust through the buttons on my vest. She met with Vicki(fellow outlaw and nightowl) numerous times to work out details, hauled extra gear from her studio for those without, packed and set up her photo equipment, and then proceeded to take "period" photos for most of Sunday afternoon. Amazing. Stopped to eat a carrot. And maybe a fat-free cookie. With a bloodcount that was so low Keith Richards wouldn't have traded. She had the best time, the best attitude, and knowing it meant it a lot to her mother, she would do it again this Sunday if asked.
Then on Wednesday we had an early breakfast and a lunch date sandwiched around a visit to the Shadyside Spa and Cancer Center where she got "radioactive", a no pain no gain scan (although in the new machine which cut some time), and almost got another lovely Quadramet treatment(come back to the almost if you stay tuned). I don't mean to seem flippant in referring to our day in this way, but I know she will echo that even know it was going to be a long day, we were both in good spirits, making jokes, almost drunk with giddiness that only comes when you have no other way to handle a particuliar situation. After surgeries, treatments, trips to Basel, Iowa, Tampa and so many trips to UPMC Shadyside that we are officially the Garmin voice for the campus, we both knew that the day would suck, but there wasn't an option B. Sunny really lived up to her adage "that cancer does not define who she is". For those that know me well , if I didn't make her laugh and address the drive over with humor, I would have been blubberin as if I was stuck watching a perpetual rewind of the ending of "Its A Wonderful Life".
So she gets "radioactive" and we have to come back in two hours. She jokes about going shopping at various WalGreens, Rite Aid's etc. and tripping the metal detectors. We eat....well she nibbles and I eat one and a half breakfast's at Pamela's. (besides humor, eating is good medicine) We shop. She shops. Don't think she bought more than a chutzky bracelet 95% off and a pair of discounted sunglasses which she immediately hated when she walked outside. I don't know....it was just being in the store, talking to the owner (Roberta Wilson Leather I think) who was real sweet and spending time doing something she would have done pre-cancer.
We get back so she can finish the scan and get the Quadramet. After 40 minutes or so she comes out in a huff and tells me that the doctor wants to talk to both of us, that something had shown up in the pictures. We get back to the "Dosage Administration" room, which I swear also doubles as the locker/lunch storage area/blanket heating room/ and apparently "Mabel" from AT&T central station. Thanks to the wonderful staff in that dept, who always take great care of Sunny, and who follow this blog. No doctor though. We had met this doctor before....kind of like Mr. McFeely from the Rogers neighborhood crossed with Andy Taylor's physician from
Mayberry. Not to judge people by what they wear, but when the doctor who holds the keys to your treatment and is the expert as to dosage and timing of concurrent treatments is dressed like Larry from Three's Company with Mr. Furleigh's physigue and mannerisms neither one of us were overcome with confidence. After handing out a few employee lunchboxes(two ER's, one Scrubs, and one eco-plastic bag bursting with tofu yogurt, after making sure Sunny had the warmest towel the "towel warmer refrigerator thing-a-mi-jiggy held, after answering aforementioned phone which rang periodically "Espere un momento por favor" (these weren't stat calls relax....it was jerod wanting his lunch microwaved....) after being offered and declining the latest in hospital magazing reading several times by the aforementioned great staff(there are only so many Southern Living issues from 2006 you can absorb in one day) and after several quick drop in's by the frazzled Dr. McFeely Tripper Furleigh which were more confusing than not knowing what was going on at all, Sunny was ready for a smackdown. She had told them on Monday and Tuesday that her blood count was low....on the border to be able to safely get the Quadramet...they told her don't worry....drop on by....stay a while....you hear....all I could hear was her MFing the system....that since the drug was ordered upmc got paid...she was wasting a whole day with her kids....she had told them to reschedule....but as is the number one answer to the "Family Feud" question what is the biggest bane cancer patients have with their medical team....."NO ONE LISTENS TO WHAT I TELL THEM"....amen....nuff said....
When Dr. HENEEDSAHUG came back in to finally tell us that it would be best to reschedule the Quadramet I ducked. I thought for sure he was getting dropped right there and then. I hoped his dental plan was good. But Sunny was in a way relieved to put it off....after all of the confusion I think she (and I silently) both thought it be best to wait to make sure if her count would come up and she could safely get the treatment. Though I poke fun and think the whole 90 minutes to sort it out was ridiculious(hey Barack, can the new plan get phones in treatment areas that don't apparently crash weekly) we both appreciated his concurring to error on the side of conservativism and reschedule.
Now as we left I knew Sunny was one hand relieved and yet was angry. Understandably, she hates to waste time she could spend with her kids. And as much as I told her, at least we got the scan done , she wasn't buying what I was selling. In the back of my mind I knew someone was going to get her going and get the "Sunny Smackdown". At Giant Eagle on the way home to pick up fruit and drinks , a rude uppity woman in the self checkout lane in front of us stepped up to the smackdown plate. Now before some of you get the wrong idea about Sunny, keep in mind she was in pain from the scan and radiation, didn't get the pain treatment, had missed her kids cross country practice, stayed home the previous night from her oldest baby's hoop game, had a sore mouth side effect thing going, had gone way past exhaustion, and then she had to hear so overdolled up wannabe cougar who was literally bagging each of her items individually and then had the bright idea to "advise" Sunny as to how to set groceries on the little food treadmill thing. Boiling point. I jumped in the middle and just started bagging. Lets just say the woman bagged her remaining bags quickly and probably will never ever use the self-checkout line in this lifetime. Sunny needed to vent. She relaxed. Those of you that have ever been in a longterm stressful situation will relate. In fairness to Sunny, this rude bitch had it coming.
I was thinking this entry through this afternoon, I flipped through the bible and came across 2nd Timothy. Another one of the letters Paul wrote. It struck me , and I didn't plan on opening it or landing there. As our Pastor says, "you go nowhere by accident." Paul wrote that we are to be as the Serving soldiers, the competing athletes, and the hardworking farmer's....we are to focus on our leader....to be singleminded and driven, that we are to compete....to try...we can't sit on the sidelines and we have to do it the right way....and that we are to work hard so as in order to receive the first rewards of our efforts....This struck me as how Sunny lives every day....she is focused on being the same as she was prior to cancer, she is competing for her life, and yet she works as hard as anyone to keep things normal....to keep on keeping on...
She has complete faith...the inner assurance that no matter what happens she will get her reward....and she backs that up with actions....she does it....she doesn't just say it....anyone can say they trust God or they won't get beatdown by cancer.....Sunny goes that step further and lives like she is beatingdown the cancer in her....no doubts...burning the ships....she is my rock ...she is the cookie on my creamfilling in this OREO of life and I am truly honored to not just write this blog but to be with her on this incredible journey....
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I felt horrible that he felt this way. The last two years I have had this urgent need to teach him and the boys everything they need to know if my day comes. I have a box of letters written for them for certain situations. I have done the fast track of parenting so that the boys and Mark will be fine without me. However, what I realized by Mark's statement is that I have not planted the confidence in him that he needs to continue raising my boys after my journey with cancer is over. So yes he still needs me. So this road block needs to be hurdled over. This cannot be it......I need to find another treatment and fast.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
There are new tumors in the bones on my left side and my chest area. However, the most concerning part it the growth of the tumors in my liver and several new ones popping up as well. I wish I had more information to tell you but what I do know is that Dr. Friedland and myself need to come up with a new game plan on how to fight. I have several appointments with specialists, one with my liver oncologist and hopefully by the end of the week I will have some answers. Until then I am going to do what I always do and appreciate everyday.
Please keep me in your prayers.