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, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time

This week I have seen so many beautiful moments and I want to share them with you all.  It's the Holiday Season so yes things seem a little sweeter and more majestic when they happen this time of year.  I think we all want to believe that Christmas time comes with miracle, kindness and joy; but I have seen some astonishing things happen all year long its more heartwarming when it happens during the Christmas season.   Like when it snows on Christmas, that snow fall is just a little more special then a regular winter snow.   So as I was sitting in front of the computer collecting my thoughts it came to me that this was a week of so many breathtaking moments.  So I think I will continue that breathtaking moment post I started and keep adding to almost two years ago.  Breathtaking moments of Christmas week are as follows:

1.  Wondering why I did not get my teens Christmas list.  Then when I finally beg them to tell me what they would like for Christmas the admitted that the three of them  agreed to not ask for anything so I could use the money to go to Switzerland.  Do they think I would totally forget Christmas gifts for them????  Never!!! I enjoy giving them way more then they enjoy getting them.  I love this time of year. 

2.  Have a good friend and wonderful Chiropractor donate a week of service to my fund so I can make it to Switzerland.

3.  Receiving a card in the mail from Santa.

4.  Dropping off 20 blankets to a nursing home and seeing the patients so happy to see me.  Visiting with those patients and enjoying their amazing stories.

5.  Being included in a cookie exchange and never having to bake one cookie.  I was just thought of because and I have to say they were the best cookies ever.

6.  Having a book signing in my old neighborhood of Greenfield and it being so packed that you could not move.  Seeing half the people at the book signing from my Plum neighborhood.  They drove all the way to support me. 

7.  Sitting in Christmas Eve service with another wonderful family and feeling the spirit of God coming to all of us. 

8.  Watching my men singing at service.

9.  Watching my boys exchange the gifts the bought for each other.  Seeing more excitement about them giving their brothers the gift they spent so much time picking out then receiving the gifts they got. 

10.  Spending Christmas Eve with just my four men and enjoy it.  Church, a few gifts, eating, and movie.  Watching my boys actually enjoy being with each other. 

11.  Open the three presents that my boys planned together and picked out for me.  They bought me charms for my bracelet and each one was so well thought of. 

12.  Being told, "this was the best Christmas ever Mom".  I told them they say that every year.  They responded, "that means it gets better every year, mom".  And I was feeling guilty.

13.  Sitting in chemo three days before Christmas watching each patient wait for their blood count results.  Seeing smiles on their faces when told that they are good enough to be around people.  Seeing some with tears in their eyes for other reasons can be breathtaking too.

14.  Having an elderly man come into the chemo center dressed like Santa handing out candy to all the patients.  I was told by the nurse that he has been a volunteer for three years, ever since his wife passed from cancer.  The smile on his face was so real but it was one of the smiles that many of us cancer fighters (when I say fighters I mean all those that love those fighting too) put on to hide the tears they are holding back.  I have those smiles many times too.

15.  Sharing a room with a lady that there for her LAST treatment.  She was told last week that the new set of scans showed no evidence of cancer.  She was cancer free for Christmas. 

16. Receiving a beautiful note on Christmas day from my niece, telling me she admires me.   

17.  Spending the entire day with my entire family and EVERYONE  home for the holidays.  Seeing my mom so happy to have all her children and grandchildren together. 

18.  Spending last evening with my boys at the Globe Trotter game.  We had so much fun together and I made it through the entire night without crying in pain.  I paid for it all evening but it was so worth the "no sleep night of pain".

19.  Receiving a very very special Christmas present. You know who you are????  Breathtaking!

20.  Sitting in the dark living room with just the Christmas tree lit and jammed packed with ornaments.  Looking at each and every ornament and remember each meaning that goes with the ornament.  First yr of marriage, baby's 1st Christmas, new home, Disney vacation ornaments,  Basketballs, footballs, baseball, soccer and hockey ones, angels with the words hope, believe and faith, many homemade photo ones, and so many more.


"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away"

Sunny

P.S.

Please Tune in on December 29, at 9am to you TVs.  I will be on live "The Pittsburgh Today Show".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Birthday Post

Today my middle son turns 14 and I feel like its my birthday too.  I think back to the very first Birthday post I wrote to my son Logan.  I don't like to admit this, but NEVER did I think I would be here to write his 14th birthday post.  Maybe that is because that's what the doctors were telling me. I pretended that I did and I think I really tried to make myself (or everyone that loves me) believe I was going to be around and beat this cancer but looking back I deep down thought he would be motherless at 14. I may not have beat it yet but I have crossed many mountains since that first birthday post.  I am not writing this to break any hearts.  I am writing this because I want to show that life is not predicted by a disease, a cancer, or a doctor.  Life is planned out by nobody but God. 

Seeing the man that Logan is becoming makes me so grateful that I did fight everyday to be here.  He is strong and sensitive.  He is kind yet tough.  He is smart and funny.  He is amazing just the way God intended him to be.  In the craziness of my day today I find a minute to think about everything I want him to know before he becomes an adult man.  Things that many moms can teach as the years go by.  I however feel this urgent need to speed up that process and teach him now. Like:

1. Life is not easy but so worth it.  So give it your all and never quit on living it.
2. Treat everyone you meet as if they are your best friend.  You never know what could happen.
3. Respect yourself and know that you are worth it.  Respect your peers even if you don't agree with them.  Respect your elders they, earned that right. 
4.  Never think life has cheated you or has been unfair to you.  Life is what you make it everyday no matter what obstacles are put in front of you.
5. If you are waiting to be happy when life is perfect then you will never be happy.  And oh what joy you will miss if you are not happy.  Happiness is one thing you can give yourself. 
6.  Love the Lord, then yourself, then your family, and then everyone else will be easy to love.
7.  No matter how angry your brothers make you and how much you want them to go away know that they are the only ones that wont run away when you need them the most.  Family is more valuable then all the riches in the world.  See the good in the boys that you share a home with.
8.  Fight for what's worth fighting for and walk awayfrom fights that aren't worth it.
9.  Remember that no matter how hard life seems and how hopeless the outcome looks anything is possible through faith in the Lord.
10.  For now, last but most importantly know that you can always come home to were you have unconditional love.

Logan is one of the four reasons I get up every morning. His birthday is a special day. I remember the day he was born as clear as the day itself.  Everyday that I am here, no matter hard or easy, is as special as the day my sons where born.  I am so glad that cancer has taught me that.  "The Good in Cancer".

Happy Birthday my son.!!!!
Sunny

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/22/11 Christmas Party and book signing at Hough's Bar and Micro Brewer - Food and nonacohlic drinks for $20. Great night out before the Holiday. Great Chinese Auction. Invite all your friends for a get together. Alcohol available and amazing beers.An amazing Chinese auction with tons of Pittsburgh sports items.  Silent Auction includes: Televison, Steeler, Penguins and Pirates autographed items and IPad.  Great xmas gifts. 
                    6:30 pm
563 Greenfield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15207
412-586-5944

Friday, December 9, 2011

How long

It's 3:20 in the morning and I have been up since 2:00.  In that hour in 20 minutes I have prayed, taken a shower, facebooked a little, prayed again,  heard my youngest wake because he heard me yell in pain, took some pain meds and then finally my mind started to wonder.  When this happens no matter what the pain is I have to stop it.  I can not let my mind take over my fight.  The house is dark, everyone is sleeping (except the ones I wake for a bit but they fall back to sleep), and its lonely.  This is when i have to appreciate my alone time with God.  This is also when I become so tired of my battle. 

When I was praying tonight a begged that he take my pain away and give me tomorrow pain free. I am having some oral surgery because the chemo I have been on is doing some damage to my jaw and teeth.  I really want to get through this without my bone pain. I prayed for those on my list that I have written on a long piece of paper stashed in my Bible.  I am sure many of you are on that list.  I then of course prayed for my boys.  This time a little more for my youngest who has been sad lately. I thank the Lord for all the amazing blessing he has given me despite my cancer or through my cancer.  I always end with asking that He guide me in making good choices is my life. Last night however, I prayed that God will tell me how much longer I need to suffer and fight. 

It may sound like a negative thought.  But it is not.  I am so going to fight forever if God wants me to, but I just wondered tonight if I will know when it's time to stop fighting.  I have wondered this before.  In fact I have even talked to my pastor about this exact topic.  "How long until it's too Long?" or "when will I know its time to stop fighting".  Sounds horrible to have to think about this but I think I know the answer.  I think God will tell me when he is ready for me.  I am not afraid to die at all.  I am afraid to leave my boys, Mark, my Mom and siblings, and my friends when they need me to be here.  But I know that there is a fantastic place waiting for me.

After I was done praying it accrued to me that I am not done fighting.  God has things for me to do here.  At times it is hard and exhausting but it is His will.  I believe I will know when I am done.  I think my mind went to this because on Wed. when I was at chemo one of the nurses was talking to me about my book. She has been reading it and wanted to ask me about some of the things in it.  She asked me if I ever want to give up.  Truthfully I could not answer her..... I wasn't sure.  She said that she wished she would of had a copy when her sister was fighting cancer.  She told me that her sister and some of her patients seem so tired.  They just want to stop fighting.  As she was talking to me her eyes filled with tears.  Mine did too.  I told her I know exactly how they feel but God let's us know when we can quit and maybe God was telling them that.  She hugged me tight and I didn't pull back in pain because I know she needed it.  I can't imagine her life as a chemo nurse and having a sister that just past from cancer.  How her heart must hurt.  After we hugged she ask me how to pray.  I was taken back.....how to pray?  I told her just talk to Him. 

I got called into the room and she walked away.  I hope I said the right thing.  As I was sitting waiting for my drug I thought of something and I wrote it down.  On the way out I handed her the paper and gently hugged her this time.  I don't want to tell you what I wrote but it was not my words it was just words that popped in my head.  Let's just say we all can talk to Him but we need to Hear Him TOO!!!!.

Sunny

Friday, December 2, 2011

Events and Book Signings

Hello All,

I have been getting many emails about where and when is my next book signings.  Here are the ones in December:


12/3/11      Bella Figura Spa - Enjoy mini spa treatments and we will have a book discussion
                  6:30 - 9:30
                  608 Main Street
                  Pittsburgh, Pa (Sharpesburg)

12/10/11    Barnes and Nobles in The Warterfront - book signing and a small reading from the book
                  12-2
                  100 West Bridge Street
                  Homestead, PA 15120
                  412-462-5743

12/22/11     Christmas Party and book signing at Hough's Bar and Micro Brewer - Food and nonacohlic drinks for $20.  Great night out before the Holiday. Great Chinese Auction.  Invite all your friends for a get together.   Alcohol available and amazing beers.
                    6:30 pm
                    563 Greenfield Avenue
                    Pittsburgh, PA 15207
                    412-586-5944


I really hope to see some of you there.

Sunny         
            

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Switzerland here we come

Mark, Dr. Friedland and I have finally made some decisions regarding my next set of treatments.  For awhile we were heading for the experimental LU177 in Houston, TX. Those treatments seem quite promising but are not FDA  approved and quite expensive.  After trying to save and come up with the money we decided that it may be better to head back to Basel, Switzerland and try the last Y90 treatment I have left.  I was supposed to receive this treatment after my last trip to Basel.  However, I was not invited back due to the way my body responded to the treatment.  Although, after some time the Y90 did keep me stable for about a year.  It did not shrink any of the tumors but kept them for growing for a good while.  We have been waiting to hear back from Switzerland after they declined me twice.  With a desperate plea for acceptance they finally decided to let me in.  Well as you all know the cancer is  invading again.  So we do not have time to wait until the Houston treatment becomes FDA approved (then insurance will cover it) or affordable.  The Switzerland treatment is not covered either but the cost is less then Houston.  Not to mention we have been there several time so Mark is more confident with the treatment.  I, on the other hand, was really hoping that we could swing the Houston treatment.  I just feel more comfortable being in the States. 

We have spent much time in pray over this decision and it seems that God is leading us to the Y90 treatment in Switzerland.  Sometimes we pray and pray for something that we think is the right choice for us.....like the Houston treatment.  But God seems to know what is best and leads us the other way.  I am a bit worried that the travel for me now with my pain and weakness is going to be a bit rough. I was hoping to get the Houston treatment for that reason...closer to home and easier flights. But the cost is making it impossible at this time.  So this is where true faith steps in.  I have to believe that God will protect me and make the trip as easy as possible.  I cannot let fear get in the way of staying alive. 
Mark and I are leaving January 5th.  I will enter the Basel hospital on Jan 9th to receive treatment.  We are not sure of the return date but know that it will be ASAP.  I have had much experience with this treatment and the severe side effects usually take about ten days to come into full force. So I would like to be home and not suck in a Swiss hotel when that happens.  Not to mention the kids need us home.  So as soon as I get the okay to come home I will be on the plane heading back to the beautiful city of Pittsburgh. 

Of course this is always subject to change when God has His hand on things.  The Houston treatment could become FDA approved and then my insurance will cover it.  We could hit the lottery and be able to afford it.  Or God could open other doors for us. Heck I could go for a scan and be completely cured.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  It has happen before.  But as of now we are set to go over the pond and get that magic potion. 

Please keep praying for me and my four boys. I'll keep fighting.

I also want to remind everyone of the Saturday book signing and spa treatment night at Bella Figura Spa from 6:30-9:00.  I will be speaking and signing books.  But the more exciting thing is several mini spa treatments available.  To purchase tickets please email bellafiguraspa@yahoo.com.  Their will be food and wine and fun.  I hope you can join us. 

Bella Figura Spa address
608 Main Street
Pittsburgh, Pa (Sharpesburg)


Love,
Sunny

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Always Thankful

How can I even began to list all that I am thankful for today?  Honestly, I feel like this day is just not fair for someone like me. When we go around the table to say what we are thankful for I want to pull out my six foot long scroll listing each and every blessing I have received this year.  Someone who has been given so much in the last three years can not possibly pick a few.  Of course the obvious is my life.  I was told May of 2008 that I was to prepare for a long six months, if I was lucky to have that left.  Here I am more then three years later able to enjoy my day with my amazing family.  Of course the past few years have not been rainbows, puppies and unicorns.  In fact they have been more difficult then I could ever imagine.  Especially the last few months.  But I am here another Thanksgiving so what else can I want? 

This is only the second year in the past twelve years that we were not in FL for Thanksgiving.  So of course Mark, the boys and I were missing our swim in the ocean right before we feasted on the dinner....especially Mark.  Tomorrow is his birthday and we always spend that day surfing and just loving the ocean.  However, its been a rough few months and I did not think I could make the trip. Not to mention we are trying hard to save for my new treatment.  I really regret it now.  Never again will I let this cancer stop me from that trip.  It is the one time of year that we are together with no interruptions.  We go to the beach, the pool, the boys and their cousins have a turkey bowel football game, we eat, and then play games that night.  Minimum TV stations and no Internet.  Just the simple life of forcing three teenagers to spend time with their parents.  Simple to us....not so much for them.    Its been an empty feeling all day.  But we are still just happy to be together. 

Tomorrow is Mark's 41st Birthday.  He's got the whole day planned in between basketball and soccer practice which he reminds me the boys would be missing if we were in FL.  We are then going to do a big tail gate party with the Back-yard brawl....Pitt and WV.  I pulled all the boys aside yesterday and told them that there is to be no plans made for their busy social lives and no mention of what they will be missing tomorrow.  Its dad's day and nothing else.  Truly its kinda of dad's week.  He really does milk the whole birthday to a birthweek.  But he does deserve it. 

As I said Thanksgiving is a day that people like me don't need.  We don't need a day to remember all the blessing we have, we see them right in front of us everyday.  When you are fighting to stay alive every little thing seems to be huge.  Every well wish, act of kindness, beautiful flower or sunset, every hug that is given to you, every tear that is shed for you and every pray that is said I appreciate.  When I have a day like today and I can get out of bed and control my pain, go to Grandma's for dinner, sit with a nephew and reminisce, get a hug from a brother, or have a son tell you that you look good I have moments that you know you must be thankful for. When you arrive at dinner and everyone is happy you made it.  When you see your children's smiling faces and having a good time with their family.  When a niece tells you her Christmas list.   It's again "THE GOOD IN CANCER".  So yes Thanksgiving is an important day to count your blessing and have somethings to say when its your turn at the dinner table.  But for me everyday is Thanksgiving because I am so thankful for every little thing. 

Happy Everyday,
Sunny

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Net Cancer Awareness Day thank you!

Thursday, November 10th was World Net (neuroendrocrine or carcinoid) Cancer Day. I reached out to all my family and friends asking them to please help me raise awareness. It is so important to raise awareness of the misdiagnosed cancer. Many expert say neuroendrocrine carcinoid cancer is a rare cancer because the number of those suffering are less then 1% of all the other cancer. I truly believe it is less rarer then thought to be. I think that because it's such a difficult cancer to detect it is often missed or misdiagnosed. In fact the slogan for Net cancer is "if you don't suspect you can't detect". I think that many cancer patients actually have carcinoid cancer however doctors don't test for it and name it the cancer of the organ that the cancer effects. For example when I was first diagnosed with cancer in 1994 I was told I had ovarian cancer. I had my ovary removed and a quick course of chemo and on my way. Then a year later it returned in the other ovary.  The doctor was very careful and removed the tumor, left the damage ovary, small course of chemo and again on my way.   I was then told I was cancer free. Only to have it return years later in my lung. I was not being scanned anymore  because it had been over five years. I had lost my lung because I was diagnosed to late to save it. The cancer had engulfed almost my entire lung. I don't want to get into my story you can read it here on the blog or in my book. But I want to stress that it is important to have every tumor tested for carcinoid. If I was diagnosed correctly in the very beginning I could of manage this cancer and would never be as far as I am now.  I don't want anyone to suffer because of doctors that are not knowledgeable of this cancer and don't test for it.  There is no cure at this time for carcinoid cancer however, it can be managed if it does not get to stage four like mine.  Now I feel like an hour glass and the sand is running faster and faster everyday. 
As I said I reached out to all my friends and family asking them to support me on November 10th and wear black and white or even better zebra print for the day. I also told them to make sure they tell everyone why they are dressed that way and explain to them what carcinoid cancer is. Once again I should not be surprised, but I was, the out pour of love for me was amazing. I am still in awe and drying the tears from my eyes at the number of people who stepped up to the plate for me again. My phone was going crazy all day with text messages of photos of people in their black and white, zebra prints or my "Sunny Team" tshirts. My facebook friends changed their profile pictures to the black and white carcinoid ribbon in my honor. I had even had a few people have their place of work participate in the awareness day too. All of them sending me photos. My eight year old niece brought my book into her classroom and while dressed in her "Sunny Team" shirt told her whole class about me and carcinoid cancer. I had Sunny Carcinoid Supporters all over the US and even one in Switzerland. The bartender at the hotel I stayed at when I got my treatments sent me a email telling me he wore his wife's zebra head band for me. The zebras were galloping around in California, New York, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, St. Thomas and of course Pennsylvania (I hope I didn't miss anywhere) raising the awareness for NET cancer in my honor. I know I have said this over and over again, I hope no one ever gets sick of hearing it, but days like these are why I fight so damn hard. How could I ever give up when all those that love me are never giving up on "loving me through" this cancer?

Again I am reaching out to say thank you. Thank you for being part of my battle. I was speaking at my last book signing and I said, "when you are diagnosed with cancer everyone who loves you is diagnosed too". I did not realize that when I was first diagnosed; I thought I could fight it all on my own. I was tough and I did not need to bother anyone with my battle. I would go around faking that I was fine and I was handling this cancer war all by myself. I am not sure how long I went on like but I believe it was the words of Pastor Frank that kinda planted that seed that I need to accept help. In one of our conversation I told him that I was feeling so uncomfortable with all the donations, meals and offers to help me. He looked at me straight in my face and said, "if you don't let others in your life right now you are denying them the opportunity to be blessed". Well being that I have this huge fear of hurting any one's feelings I started to let others join my cancer battle team. Even though many tell me that they are blessed to be helping me I know that I could never of got this far without each one of you cheering me on. Thank you!!!!

I have made some huge decisions on my treatment plan this week and after I get all the "T's" crossed and "I's" dotted I will fill everyone in. I am asking for more prayer that Mark and I are heading in the right path and that all the finances line up so we can take a big leap in some experimental treatments. My mind is spinning and time is running out so we need to wrap this all up.  Another thing I have learned in the past few years of my journey is that nothing I have been through I have done alone. Yes I have a great support group which gets bigger and bigger every minute but God is right there always. Prayer is what leads me to the answers....not just my little prays but all those who pray for me.  God hears you.  So please in the next few days pray that all the decisions we make are made because God lead us to them and that they become possible.

Love,
Sunny

Just a few of many pictures I got. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Blessing I am receiving

It's been almost three weeks since the debut of my book, "The Sunny Side of Cancer".  I have had several dozen emails and several people approach me that my book has changed their whole outlook on life and living.  The book is now been corrected for some missed typos and in its second print. At the end of this post I will share with your some emails, letters and texts I have received with feedback from my book.  However before that I want to tell you what the debuting of this book has done for me.  I have been sitting on printing this book for months.  I was not quite sure anyone would want to read my story or my philosophy on getting through life's struggles.  Then the editor printed four copies and gave them to my husband and boys.  The look on their faces and the reaction they gave me when they held the book inspired me to finally print them.  I saw such pride in my boys eyes that mom did more then fight cancer and lay in bed.  Each one of them asked me to write something to them in it.  Later that evening they sat in our family room and read different sections out loud to each other.  So the next day I decided to continue on with the publishing.

I have to say I have been on an absolute kite since then.  I feel like when people talk about my book they are talking about someone else......it can't be me.  I have had three book signing and I am schedule for four more in the next month.  I even turned a few down because the timing with my boys schedules don't mesh.  The reaction I have had has been so humbling.  I have met they most amazing people in the last few weeks and heard so many heroic cancer battles.  This is the pick me up that I really needed.  God knows just when to throw me a bone to show me life is worth fighting for. 

On Saturday and Sunday, October 29th and October 30th, I was asked to speak at Unity Community Church, where I am a member, during service and then do a book signing.  I have to say those two days changed my life. The togetherness and spiritual uplift in the service, especially Sunday's 11 service, was indescribable.  I could feel the love all through me.   Although, I was there to tell my story and how I chose to turn my battle over to God I was the one that was touched again.  I can not tell you the out pour of love I got those two days and continue to get everyday. Then when my good friend and cancer prayer warrior Roza Kline sang our song, well Martina's song, "I'm going to love your through it" there was not a dry eye in our packed church.  I just feel so special and I don't deserve all this attention.  I have to give all the glory to God.  I am not a writer by training and never set out to write a book.....it all just happen.  I am not sure how it all came about but I have to express that God was holding my hand through every click of the keyboard. 

The sales have been great, but the words and kindness towards the book is the most wonderful thing ever. I am not boosting in any way I just want to express what the words of encouragement and kindness regarding my heart on paper has done for me.  I love all of you for pumping me up and for loving my story.   Below is some of the feedback I have gotten (I excluded all names for privacy reasons):

Email:
Sunny,
thanks for writing this book. I started reading it today on my lunch break but had to close it up because the tears started flowing and my makeup was running down my face.  So on the way home while sitting on the "T" I put my sunglasses on and continued.  I can't put it down.  Just so moving and touching.  It's really changing my outlook on all my problems. 

Text:
Finished you book in 2 days.  WOW!!!!  I never knew. 

Facebook message:
I wanted to let you know that I read your book and it was amazing, as are you. You are truly an inspiration to many, whether you know it of not. Your children and your husband are blessed to have you.

My mom also ordered it and is making my Dad read it. He was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at the base of his tongue. He finished the treatments and his first PET scan was good. Second one was not good but they think it was just ulcers. He still feels crappy but the tests are good. He has been feeling down lately so she wanted him to get some perspective and we are hoping your book will help.

Keep fighting the good fight, you have so many people praying for you and pulling for you.


Email:

My name is xxxxx and I have met you twice through amutual good friend of ours, xxxx.  xxxx actually bought me a copy of your book and dropped it off to me last Saturday.  I have known through the years the different fundraisers that were done on your behalf and Iknew your story through xxxx and xxxx, or should I say, I thought I knew your story. 

I picked up your book on Saturday at 3:30 and didn’t put it down until midnight (except to eat dinner).  Your book…………..I can’t even find the words to describe what I want to say.  I can only tell you how I felt while reading your book, it made me feel like I want to be a better person and appreciate every moment I have here on earth.  I want to spend every second enjoying life without complaining about work, finances,and the little things that I can’t even remember.  As I was reading yourbook, I would text xxxx different pages and your message for that blog or a quote that you had and it was just like I couldn’t get enough. 

I don’t know how to describe you, I was trying to explain you and your story to a few people and I couldn’t put into words,the best I could come up with is that you were sent here as one of God’sspecial Angels to spread your infectious love and message of strength and happiness.  You are truly such a special and brave person. 
Your book sends a message of how to live and enjoy life andyour blogs and your message is relatable for everyday life and everyday problems.  I know that writing your blog was therapeutic to you but inturn, your book is therapy for everyone who reads it.  Now that I havefinished your book, I will go ahead and study it again and make sure that I “dog-ear”certain pages and highlight certain quotes and messages. 

My family and I also spent a great part of my kids childhood vacationing in Vero Beach and driving there every year together and when you were talking about your drives to/from Florida, I could totally relate to so many of the things you wrote about.  I, too, always loved those long road trips because it was a great bonding time for our family….20 hours togetherand no one could leave the room, we had to be together talking, listening tothe same music and looking at nature’s beauty as we drove.

Sunny, you are truly an inspiration and you have inspired me to be a better person and love my life and those in it.  I am so thankfulthat Lisa thought of me and bought me a copy of your book.  I will beforever grateful to her for that. 

Thank you for teaching me about life and also making me appreciate everything.  I will keep you and your family in my prayers and I will make sure to get involved with your fundraisers, I’ll make surethat xxxx keeps me posted.

Text:
Got you book in the mail today and read the first five chapters before bed.  I am so moved.  Can't wait to read more tomorrow. 

Facebook Message:
Just finished your book.  As a carcinoid fighter thank you!!! You put the whole battle in perspective.  I can't give up.

Text:
I just finished my last round of chemo today!!!! I feel like giving up but if you can do it then I can do it.  Thanks and hugs. 


Once again I am not writing this to be boastful in any way at all. In fact I am quite humbled. I just want to let all those that reached out to me that it means so much to me.  Thank you for being with me through this fight and loving me through it. 



Sunny

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Swiss roommate

I wanted to post today about my amazing weekend at Unity Church with my second book signing. I also wanted to tell you the wonderful experience I had speaking at three services about how my life has changed and the "Good in Cancer".  However, yesterday I had some devastating news and I think I need to give honor to someone who fought the great fight of Carcinoid cancer.

Another one of my carcinoid posse has passed and this one has hit me hard.  Kathy Pelkey had lost her battle on October 30th.  Kathy and I met in Switzerland when we were the only two Americans there receiving the experimental PRRT treatment.  We were actually roommates. I think God put her there to help me get through two very rough nights.  When I arrived first at the hospital the nurse that checked me in said that they only have one room that is not a single room and I am lucky enough to get it.  I remember looking at Mark with a bit frustration because I felt a little cheated that I was paying all this money and now I have to share a tiny European room with another very ill patient.  I believe I made a comment  about hoping they speak English and the nurse came back with, "you and her are the only Americans so we thought you can help each other".  Mark was relieved that I would have someone in the room with me since they kicked him out before noon that day. 

When Kathy and her husband came into the room to check in just about an hour after me I felt such a sense of peace.  She had children just a little bit younger then me and I felt like she was my mom.  Mark and her husband got along really good too.  After the men left, I went to get the magic drug first and I remember her giving me a wink as I walked out the door. Her knowing exactly the anxiety I was trying to hide because she was trying to her anxiety too.   When I got back to the room she had already went to the dungeon to get her expensive life saver.  After about an hour we were both sitting in the room bored out of our mind.  We played cards, ate together and we talked a lot.  There was no curtain or anything to separate our beds...just night stands. We each had our own television however the room was so small we kinda had to watch the same channel, but there was only two American speaking stations so that didn't matter. I believe we watch some "I love Lucie" reruns and I remember he laughing so happily.  We talked about our children and her grandchildren.  I could tell she was a complete hands on mom.  She talked with such pride about them.  When her husband came in to visit you could just see the love in his eyes.  I remember him saying that he would do anything to save her. 

The first night was really hard for me.  I was in a lot of pain and really sick to my stomach.  Kathy did not have as many tumors as I so she took the treatment much better then I did. I felt horrible because I was so sick I kept her up all night.  She did not seem to care at all, she actually was helping me.  She comb my hair because it was getting in my face when I would get sick.  She even sat in the chair close to my bed for awhile to help me with the bucket when I needed it.  Truly just an angel.  However all of that is not what I admired most about Kathy.  The first night of our stay after we talked for hours Kathy asked me if I was a Christian.  I then reached in my bag and pulled out my Bible.  She opened the draw of the night stand and pulled out her Bible too. 

At that time we talked about our favorite scriptures and she told me about things that had happen to her in life that where amazing miracles. It was not one of those highly "Bible pumping" talks that can make you nervous; it was just a natural talk. It was such a nice time that we spent together across the ocean saving our lives.  Kathy was from Minnesota so she had that cute accent and it was fun to listen to her speak.  She guessed that Mark and I were from New York because she said we talked to fast she couldn't keep up.  When I told her from Pittsburgh she talked about the Steelers.  It was like having my mom right next to me.  My Pastor always says, "you go nowhere by accident.  Wherever you go, God is sending you.  Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has something He wants to do in you, or through you, where you are."

I believe Kathy was my roommate for a reason.  I grew up in a very large family and had to share a room for a long time.....even three to four in a room.  So I am a bit selfish about  my space as an adult.  Poor Mark only gets a little space in our California King size bed.  However, I am glad that God infringed on my comfort zone.  I kept in touch with Kathy for awhile, then it we lost touch. So we I heard the news from her daughter that she had passed I felt a little bad that I lost contact.  I do know that her because of her faith and the example that she showed me she is in a more glorious place that we can ever imagine. 

Next post I promise will be the joy I felt this weekend.

Love,
Sunny

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unity Church

I will be at Unity Church in Plum Pa on  Sat at 6:00 service and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00 service for a book signing. Thank you Pastor Frank and my church community for all your support. I hope you can all come and experience our amazing church.
Also, free shipping ends Sunday so order your books online soon. ;)








Thank you,
Sunny

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Day to remember

I honestly don't know how to explain yesterday, The fourth annual "Take a Swing Against Cancer" wiffleball tournament.  Amazing, fantastic, humbling, tear jerking, inspirational, and beautiful are just thoughts going through my head.  But none of those words describe the day quite the way I would want to.  First of all the weather was absolutely perfect.  The sun was shining and high in the 60's.  Just a picture perfect day.  At one point of the day I stood at the bottom of the hill by the pavilion and quietly took it all in.  How can such a riping cancer bring so much joy and happiness?  Everyone laughing and having fun.  All positive and not a smell of pain or fear around. 

I think it really hit me when my friend, Roza, sang the song, "I'm gonna love you through it". Hearing sniffles all around me I could only look straight head and put that fake smile on my face.  I became overwhelmed with emotion when I realized that every single person here was here to support me. I can not tell you how Sunday lifted me up.  Fighting this cancer is a battle everyday.  In the beginning when it was not as advanced I could go a day or two and almost forget that I was fighting this disease.  But now that it has advanced there is something, either a pain or sick to my stomach or even tighten the string on my sweatpants because I lost so much weight,  everyday or every second that says, "you are sick".  However, that does not mean I need to put my head down and feel sorry for myself.  How can I do that when I have blessing like Sunday?  This day gives me my refuel to kick butt.  To take a swing at cancer.

On another note, Today is the first day of sales for my book, "the Sunny Side of Cancer".  It's been selling pretty well.  Free shipping to the first few days so take advantage of this.


I wanted to announce my newly published book titled, "The Sunny Side of Cancer".  It will be in stores and online for Christmas sales. To buy it now go to @ www.sunnycarneycarcinoidcancerfund.blogspot.com. My book is an easy read about my cancer battle through the eyes of a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and business owner. I talk about everything from telling my kids the news, struggles and stress on marriage, the need to raise awareness of NET, treatments and my journey and treatments in Switzerland. My goal is to raise awareness of NET/Carcinoid Cancer and helping others living life with a positive attitude despite the obstacles in our way. I want those that read the book to understand that life can get tough but with faith and strength we can enjoy it. My wish is that after reading this book people put it down and say, "everyday is a blessing....live it to the fullest." I hope you all enjoy it.

I hope those who have followed my blog will buy the book. Mark said that they are going to know me so well they can all move in.  

Until Later,
Sunny

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surprise!!!

I finally feel safe to let the cat out of the bag.  The secret can be told because the product is in my hands. Yesterday I had the first batch of the final draft a my book delivered.  Yes I wrote a book titled, The "Sunny" Side of Cancer.  Let me explain how this came to fruition.  Several publisher have contacted me to compose my blog and a few other personal stories in to published book.  They wanted me to share my experience of this cancer journey on all aspects from the family personnel pain, to the treatment pain, the insurance issues, trip to Europe, and the awareness I am trying to raise about this rare cancer called neuroendrocine cancer or carcinoid.  At the time I was flattered but did not feel that my story was really one anyone would read.  Then my blog readings started to increase to a few hundred to thousands all over the world.  Finally, a friend of my who works for a editing company talked me into it pulling my journals and blog post together.  Next thing I know I was holding the first draft on Mother's day in my hand. 

This book is not a medical journal of neuroendrocine carcinoid cancer.  I am not an expert nor a doctor on the disease.  In fact I am learning everyday and researching every minute I have about this cancer and the upcoming treatments related to carcinoid cancer.  So please don't read it trying to learn the technical details or advice on treatments. Read it to see how I as a Christian mother and wife go through everyday  with an incurable rare cancer.  It is real life drama and I try to show the "Good in Cancer".  There are several blog post and many personnel journal post.   Its just about living life with an obstacle in the way.  I hope people buy it and enjoy it.  What I want most is to for those who read it to feel different when they close the last page.

It will debut at the Wiffleball tournament on Oct 23rd.  See above for details.  On Oct. 25th it will be available for sale on my website.  Then by November it will be available on line and in bookstores. 

Thank You all who talked me into writing this book.  I really hope you enjoy it and give it for Christmas gifts. 

Love Always,
Sunny

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Catching Up

There is much to catch everyone up on.  First let me begin by telling you I finally had the two day Octreotide Scan.  Going through this scan this time really showed me exactly how much my cancer has progressed.  When I was first diagnosed it truly was no problem to lay in that tube for hours two days in a row.  I actually used that time as almost a mediation period.  I am not saying that I enjoyed it but I did it with no issues.  Well three weeks ago the repeat of that scan was not as pleasant.  The masses in my bones have just taken over.  I think it was about eight minutes into the test that I was praying for it to end. By day two I was so worked up about not being able to finish the entire scan that Mark and the tech actually sat with me and cheered me through the whole thing.  By the end I was crying and praying uncontrollable.  When they finally pulled me out of the tube you would of thought I conquered Mt. Everest.  I was hugging everyone and saying over and over again, "I finished it.....I did it".  I felt so weak and like a complete baby.  But I did it and at that point could care less what anyone was thinking.  The scan was on a Tuesday and Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon I called a message from Dr. Freidland that my results were back.  Mark wanted me to call him back insistently in fact he was upset I missed the call.  However, knowing how the last few months have been for me I really was not ready to hear the news.  So I waited the weekend and called him back on Monday.

Dr. Freidland and I went over the results and immediately I made an appointment to see him face to face.  The Octreotide showed much progression in the tumors that I already have and several new tumors in my hips, back, legs and liver.  I kept the news to Mark and myself until I met with doc and had a game plan.  I love all those who care about me but it can be very frustrating for me to give bad news and not have any answers on a solution to those I am giving the news to.  The first question that I am asked is, "what are you going to do about it?" and fighting cancer does not always have answers like that. 

After my appointment with the doc we started taking steps to a new plan of action.  I went for some CT scans to take a closer look at the liver and see exactly what the size of the tumors where.  The CT scan also shows what is going on inside the liver and the tumors.  With those results we can tell the seriousness of the progression.  Dr. Freidland stressed that its time to get a move on some PRRT treatments.  He did care if it was in Europe or Houston TX but just get something started before its to late.  We are schedule tentatively to go to Houston on November 1st.  I say tentatively loosely because their are several factors that come to play.  Fist the finances, the LU-177 that has shown best results is extremely expensive.  We are saving it's just get it all together.  Secondly, I am looking into places in Switzerland, Germany and Holland to see if they are more affordable.  So I am reaching out to my NET posses all over the world to please email me any information you may have.  Mark and I both agree that money will not stop me from my fight but we need to make smart decisions before we spend this amount of money.

As many of you know the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, passed away this week.  The media has been reporting that he passed from a rare form of pancreatic cancer.  That rare form of cancer is neuroendrocine, carcinoid or NETS.....whatever way you want to call it.  It frustrates me that the media does not report on this further.  Today there are several medical talk shows that could expand on this cancer and get the word out that it is the number one misdiagnosed cancer.  In some cases it is a slow growing cancer but by the time its been diagnosed it may have been growing for years.  Many times its to late once they detect it.  I have atypical which means its more aggressive then other forms of NETS.  Although, I've been told that its been three years since then.  So who knows?  My point is as simple as can be:  SPREAD THE WORD about carciniod.

On a positive note The Fourth Annual, "Take a Swing Against Carcinoid Cancer Wiffleball Tournament" is only two weeks away.  We need you to help us spread the word and grace us with your presences.  PLEASE register ASAP.  All ages and all types can play.  We even had 80 year old Grandma take a swing last year.  There is no running, its truly like you neighborhood backyard game of wiffleball. This event is such an amazing day.  Great fun and wonderful prizes.  We are even auctioning off a FL vacation.  If you are not interested in participated come for the day to spend it with your family.  Food, beverages and games for a $10 donations.  Several groups were upset that they have a football game or a church event.  This is event is all day. Come and go as you please.  Get you hand stamped and leave.  Come back when you are done with your schedule.  Don't miss the joy and love that this day brings. Not to mention there is a big surprise this year.  BIG SURPRISE!!!! It is truly a wonderful day.  Days like these are the reason I fight with all I have.  I love seeing all you guys there to support me.  Please come.


Sunny

Saturday, September 24, 2011

old post

So I was reading through some old post for a surprise I have coming.....can't tell you.  I'll let the hat out of the bag soon. 

Anyways I saw this one and I wanted to repost it because it brought tears to my eyes.  I completely forgot about this day. 



March 23, 2010


Daffodil




Sunday was such a glorious day here in Pittsburgh. Of course that means the boys and a large group of their friends will spend most of the day outside. After spending a few hours at a photo shoot I came home to an empty house with the remains of several messy boys left behind. Drink glasses half full, about a dozen of Popsicles wrappers and sticks scatter about the kitchen counter and an empty fridge that was full before I left that morning was proof that they still lived there but only entered the house to refuel theirs and their buddies’ bellies. I rushed home because I expected to be greeted by my four favorite boys waiting for me to do something fun with them. I quickly realized that they are now teenagers and they did not even realize I was gone for hours.

As I was cleaning up the mess in the kitchen and feeling very used, I heard my cell phone buzzing that a text just came through. Needing an excuse to not continue I grab my phone to check out what it said. I looked down to see Fav yung son on the name of who the text was sent. That stands for "my favorite youngest son" which is what I jokingly call him at times. I open the text only to see it was a picture of a daffodil from my Nolan and text written above the picture that said, "with the gang and saw this in someone's yard and thought of you. I cannot pick it because I don't want anyone to think I'm weird. I hope you like to just look at it.” I must say my heart insistently melted.

I have to wonder if cancer has made Nolan as thoughtful as he was on Sunday. Has our journey softened my boys? Or would they have become this sensitive and loving even if we had a normal life? I truly believe they have become who they are because of our situation. Believe me when I tell you this surprise does not happen often, but they seem to come at such perfect times. I hate cancer and I hate what it does to others and families. I believe that cancer is somehow a form of the devil. But I also know that we have become different people for the better because of being struck with this daemon.

About an hour after receiving the text, the door flew open and in come a group of about twelve boys ranging from the ages of 11 to 15 to hit our basement to watch the NCAA march madness with Mark. I cringed because I knew this meant mess number two and bad odors entering my freshly cleaned house. I handed each one a bottle of water and warned Mark they were entering the "man cave.” At the end of the stampede was Nolan holding that beautiful daffodil he texted me a picture of. Once again I felt my heart melting like candle wax. He handed me the flower and told me to hurry and put it water because he picked it right after he texted me. He claimed that Austen and Logan told him to. I gave him a huge hug and just held him. He then pulled away when he heard someone yelling for him to hurry up because Pitt was on. As he ran downstairs to join the rest of "THE GANG" he turned to me and demanded, "chips mom.” Once again I knew that despite my cancer I have a truly perfect life.



Sunny

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miles of Smiles

Yesterday was the 4th Annual Miles for Smiles for Carcinoid Cancer for Sunny 5k run and 1 mile walk.  I cannot believe I wrote 4th Annual.  Its been three and a half years since my relapse.  Anyways, I think it was the best one yet.  Our turnout was the largest ever.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  But the peace, love and spirit in the air was fantastic.  Every year is better then the last without saying, but there was something different about this year.  I cannot put my finger exactly on it so I am hoping by the time I am finish with this post putting my thoughts down will help me understand what I was feeling.  I hope I can just get through the post and hit publish.  I have been trying since yesterday afternoon but every time I type a little the tears have overwhelmed me. 

Three and half years ago when I was approached by a few friends that had this wonderful idea to start this group made up of runners to help me get to the funds I need to get to Switzerland and any other medical expenses I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  I had just been told that my cancer was back and there was no known treatments in the US.  I hesitated at first to accept their offer to have a race to raise money for my treatments.  I had no idea how we would cover all the cost of this cancer journey however I did not want to reach out for help.  Then one of the R4R (running for a reason) members  said, "we need a reason to get up and run everyday.  We want you to be our reason.  Do not deny us this opportunity".  With a little more nudging I reluctantly accepted.  Little did I know at the time that this whole event would not just change my life but reach out and touch so many other lives.

I don't even know the words to describe yesterday.  Amazing, beautiful, spiritual, humbling  and fabulous are just a few but cannot even begin to describe the love that was felt.  I have to tell you that it could not of come at a more perfect time.  The last few months have been really rough on me. Hence the lack of posts. Everyday is a new issue.  The pain is overtaking at times and to add the weakness and fatigue.   I have been trying hard to hold on to my spirit and good attitude. However at times its been close to impossible.  When fighting cancer there are times when you feel like the whole world is going on without you.  It invades your life.  My faith keeps me strong but sometimes I need a little more. Yesterday was the MORE I needed to keep me going for a long time.  The support and love I felt motivates me to go on.  Mark told me today that I am like a new person.  I don't feel any less of a cancer patient.  The pain is still there and I am exhausted as usual.  But I have that perk again.  The spunk is back and the will to go on is sparked again.  I had no idea that yesterday would do that for me but honestly today I feel refreshed.  When the R4R group originally named the race "Miles for Smiles" I think is was because I am always smiling.  Its been my "MO" since I was just a little girl.  Well on the outside I have not lost that smile, but lately on the inside its been harder and harder to feel happy.  So this race the "Miles for Smiles" for me means you gave me my inside smile back.

I have to give a big shout of appreciation to my R4R family.  I would list each name but they are so humble they would not want me to.  One of the biggest things in ones life to give to someone is not money or material goods.  Time is the most valuable gift you can give anyone.  Each and ever member of R4R has given so much of their precious time me.  An event of this magnitude is not something that is done in a week.  It takes months and months of planning.  Many nights have been spent at meetings.  Many hours have been spent on the phone.  All time that they can never get back......all time they have given to me and my family.  Like I have said many many times over and over again the two little words "Thank You" does not seem to describe who much I appreciate everything you have all done.  What amazes me more is that each one of you has said thank you to me for letting you do this event.  Thank You to me?  Really?  It just shows the hearts of each of you.  I have to tell you all that I really do love you like my own family.  We have a bond that will forever be.  You are all in this journey with me.  You are my running angels.

So I guess I figured out why yesterday was so different then any other event we have had.  Its because I needed the love more then ever before.  This cancer life was starting to overcome me.  It was starting to crush my spirit.  Yesterday was the exact lifted I needed to continue to fight.  I needed to see how many people are still at my side.  I had to see that my life can go on like everyone else.  It may not be in the same direction as others but I have a life to live.  My life is to fight this beast. 

Thank you everyone you participated in every way you all did.  Thank you all the sponsors.  Thank you all who came and hugged me.  Thank you my running angels for continuing to love me through it. 

Love.
Sunny

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I have to start off by saying the last few weeks have had it's ups and downs.  We took a family vacation to Geneva on the Lake.  It was beautiful and very peaceful.  The boys are teenagers so being with their parents isn't quite as cool, but they made the best of it. Mark took them to a warterpark, I opted out because of treatments, they played some golf and spent some time in the lake.  Because of my weakness and some pain I had to stay back at the lodge but I made myself comfortable in the hot tub.  Truly, I really was just happy to see them having a great time.  However, each trip or adventure is defiantly used as a marker to the progression of my cancer.  The boys remember the last vacation and what I was able to do.  They recall how much better I felt and subconsciously compare.  Several times I heard them say things like, "last trip she went golfing or she walked the beach every morning the last time we went away".   One day I went back to our room to rest after a while the boys were in there room and I heard my oldest ask if I was sleeping again. Of course I popped right out of bed then.  But when I asked them if they wanted to do something they just grunted.  I have to say I was just glad we were all together no matter how I felt. We had some great nights at the lodge and did a lot of night swimming.  Well they swam and I sat very comfortably in the hot tub.  After six days together we were all ready to get home.  Me to my comfortable bed and wonderful shower and the boys to their friends and social life. 

After we got home the my pain become uncontrollable again.  I truly wish I understood this cancer.  It's as unpredictable as the Pittsburgh Pirates.  However, I am relieved the pain waited until I got home.  There were a few days on vacation that I was not well but the day was not a complete wash.  Friday night I think Mark and I got a total of 30 minutes of sleep.  It was one of the pains that truly nothing would work on.  Mark finally just held me as I curled up in a ball, we prayed out loud and we dozed off for a short time.  Saturday I spent in bed most of the day while Mark tended to the boys activities.  Logan and Nolan spent the night at my mom's so that they could get a good quiet night of rest.  Austen did his social thing and really is somewhat unaffected by my bad days.  He's a teenager and really its all about him, which I am actually thankful for. 

On Friday when I knew this was going to be a long pain bout I sent out some notes to my prayer warriors.  I also knew that my regular pray warriors for me would get the word too.  I don't know how many total I had praying for me but I figure it must of been a large group.  Sunday morning I awaken at my usual 5 am and realized that I had only been up once in the middle of the night to take a pain pill.  I felt refreshed and the pain had lessened greatly.  I was afraid to wake Mark to tell him that I felt good for fear that it was just a temporary thing.  My mornings are my time to read my devotional and my bible.  After about an hour I tapped on Mark's arm and told him I felt good.  I cannot wait to share that kind of news with him.  He worries so much when I am at my worse and breathes again when those times pass. I just wanted to start the day because I did not want to miss anytime that I felt good.  Unfortunately it was only 6 am and the sun was not even up.

I had to go to church on Sunday.  I had to show thanks to God.  Our Pastor, Frank Deluce, says at the end of every service, "Remember you go no place by accident, where ever you go God is sending you."  This Sunday was one of those days.  Have you ever felt in church that the sermon was written just for you?  Do you ever wonder if everyone is hearing the same thing you are hearing?  That was this day.  The topic was Sustaining Grace and how God gives you this gift just when you think you cannot handle anymore.  Sustaining Grace is defined as a specific, timely infusion of God's strength in a Christ-follower to allow them to find hope and endurance as they are matured through all kinds of suffering. 

It was like a light bulb went off in my head.  At times when I have been at my lowest point and think that I may not get out of this one, I manage to give it to Him. I have reached out to others and asked for pray.  I have wondered how I got through some of the things I have gone through, but I know now that it is God that gives me sustaining grace.  We don't know when its going to come or how much suffering we have to endure before God gives it to us.  But if we approach Him with confidence and ask, in His time we will receive.  This does not mean our trails will be less or go away. It means we will be equipped to handle them better. I don't know when the battle of cancer will be ending for me or even how it will end, but what I need to remember is that I will always be given God's grace to handle it. 


There’s a mission to accomplish, and a battle to be won!
We’ve been called to take the challenge by God’s might and through His Son;
He will give us grace to complete the race, moving forward, pressing on!'


With Grace,
Sunny

Friday, July 22, 2011

SIXTEEN YEARS WITH SUNSHINE

Some of you may know that today is our anniversary.  Some of you may have been there.  If so,  then you remember that day as the hottest July 22 in Pittsburgh history(heat index of like 147F in St Rosalia's...the ceiling fans a nice visual touch though) so its only fitting that its hot enough today to recreate the actual event if we wanted to.  If Nike Dri Fit could be made into a tux it would have been moist that afternoon.  Sunny had designed her own gown,  her mother had made it,  and the visual impact of her tan skin with the lace trim and beaded train(no not bedazzled, although our kids mumbled that when forced to watch the old school VHS) was as stunningly beautiful as a heavenly first glimpse of a rich orange sun rising out of the blue Atlantic into the soft morning sky, still draped with the clouds of the night before.  To say she was a beautiful bride is an understatement bigger than asserting the Pirates are doing a little better than predicted.  I always joke that the key to a happy marriage is to "marry up" and have a wife that when the two of you enter a room the murmuring starts--Damn....why is she with him? 

I have always said that the beginning of my sales career....the biggest sale I ever closed....was the plan I had to lay out and execute to woo the Warden's daughter.   Every other challenge business can throw my way is a no-brainer in comparision.  She has been my best friend ,  my inspiration,  my voice of reason,  my walking miracle ever since.

So today I don't reflect on treatments, appointments,  medicine, or cancer.  Today I celebrate the wonderful life that we have been blessed to share.  Her smile is still wide,  her nose still a little button,  her eyes still bewitching.  Her attitude still leaves no room for those that won't do the best they can.  Her heart is as deep,   her compassion as humbling,  and her desire to push this man and this family forward as strong as ever. 

So today as I recall the moments that make up the Kodak moments of our life together I can state that I love her more now than yesterday, and am thankful that she came into my life and decided to jump in the front car on this rollercoaster that we call life.

Sunny---Happy 16th....I love you

Mark

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's new???

I know I started this blog to keep everyone updated on my treatments and progression of the cancer.  But truthfully sometimes I just hate talking or writing about it.  Its so involved and gets more complicated as time goes on. As for the blog its been more of way for me to let go of all the thoughts and feelings that go on in my mind as I battle then its original purpose.  Some have told me they miss when I don't post for awhile because it uplifts them reading my entries.  Others say they cannot read my blog and cry every time they go on.   Of course neither was my intentions. It has kinda grown into more of an emotional blog then just facts and medical terminology.   Although, I know that my purpose is to spread the news on treatments not to just update all those that care about me but to help other carcinoid patient that read my blog.  So this post is going to be just that...the going ons of my cancer world for the past month or so.

Pain, pain, pain is all I can say to describe the last few months.  Deep down actual bone pain.  In April I  had the chemoembolization of the liver and after an eight week wait we saw some progress.  So my docs and I were thrilled about that.  However that was just one tumor in the liver.  But on the bright side that was the largest. That was my fifth chemoembolization since the discovery of this monster and I have to say it knocked me on my butt until about two weeks ago. I was not able to keep food down, very weak, extreme fatigue, and pain in the liver 

In the meantime I have been also having horrible pain in the legs and back.  All areas that I have tumors but this pain was more then that.  I have had the feeling that more then just cancer is going on.  My oncologist sent me for a series of MRIs but the pain was so bad I only made it through the first scan for 12 minutes. Got some results....saw some new tumors....but still think that there is more going on. I started physical therapy, actually going with Austen who has had knee surgery, and it helped strengthen me but the pain did not get much better.  Finally after 8 weeks of PT my therapist suggested I go see an orthopedic doctor that he recommends.  I have an oncologist orthopedic doctor that I like but don't love.  He did save my leg and everyone that speaks of him say he is amazing (as a doctor and surgeon). I have to agree he is a genius but I complained to him several times about the pain and he said it was what I will get from the hip and femur replacement.  Of course that is not good enough for me.  I will accept my cancer but pain is not something I can live with.  Not to mention I am miserable and that effects my kids.  So since my PT guy thought that I should see this one I went. 

He was great.  He did more XRays and came to his opinion very quickly.  He feels that the rod that was put to replace my hip and femur is too large for my small frame.  He saw that the pin to connect the two was tearing and leaning on my tendons.  He also showed me a new bone or calcification growing in that area.  He determined that this would cause even someone without cancer tremendous pain. We came up with a few options but I need to consult with a few other doctors to make sure the are options for me. 

That is the news on the medical front in a summary version.  As I read over the last few paragraphs I get a pit in my stomach.  That pit is probably why I hate writing or talking about what is medically going on with me.  I don't mind when people ask and I share as much as I can.  I really despise seeing the words written down though.  There is so much more that has been going on with this cancer but its so complicated I really want to keep it in my head for now. 

On a good note our family summer is going great.  Austen is healing from his reconstructive knee surgery. I have been taking it easy on the chemo for now and am planning on starting my Houston treatment in Sept as long as my blood counts are up.  The boys will be in school and that will make things easier for those that are pitching in to watch them. 

I want to close this post with hope.  In going through the last few months I have not lost my hope.  However I know that faith is truly what makes you hope become reality. 

Sunny

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer

It is officially summer in the Carney house.  Yesterday was the last day of school and I no longer have any elementary school children.  In a few months my youngest moves on to middle school with my middle son and my oldest starts High School. I truly wish I could be like other mothers and have tears of sadness because of  how fast they are growing up but our family is not like others.  I was so thrilled to be healthy enough to attend all the year end activities I could not help but have tears of complete joy.  Joy that I am here to see each one of my sons reach a milestone.

 As I sat holding Mark's hand at Nolan's sixth grade graduation on Tuesday I reminisced about his first day of kindergarten like I am sure all the other moms did. Mark wiped my check a few times and whispered to me, "you made it".  I thought of the first time I put Nolan on the school bus with his brothers and then came home to an empty house. Even though I have not looked at the photo of him on that day for a long time I can tell you exactly what he was wearing that morning. His blond head, big blue eyes and adorable big smile ready to hit the world of school.  He had no fears, just excitement to be with his brothers all day.  Its one of those memories that you never forget.  That day when I sat at the kitchen table, sticky with syrup and dirty dish from the first day of school smiley face pancakes, I cried tears of emptiness.  Mark was probably working his normal 13+ hours a day and my three buddies were leaving me to be taught by someone else. Why does life have to move so quickly?  Never did I imagine seven years later I would be praying to see them graduate from High School.

So the end of another school year to me, and other mothers battling cancer, are happy times. It is a day of relief that you made it.  As I watch my boys grow up I see that every week, month, and year they become more independent and more prepared for life.  As time through this cancer journey passes Mark becomes more prepared to raise our teenagers.  Our family dynamics have changed since the three years of this fight. I know that my boys are okay and that I need to be here for me.  I need to see my boys succeed more then I need to show them how to succeed.   I am so happy that I am here to see my boys bring home report cards, graduate from elementary school, move on to middle school and high school, grow taller then their father, achieve their goals and grow closer to becoming an adult. So although my life is going by very quickly I am blessed that I am here to run the race of time.  As I continue to fight everyday I hope that I remember what I write today.  I pray that when the treatments are at their worse and the sickness and pain is overcoming I can keep going so I can shed more tears of joy. 

Sunny

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scan Results

As many of you know I had another chemoembolization to the liver on April 1st.  It is not a secret that they are the most torturous treatments I have ever gone through.  According to my liver oncologist many people have no problems with them and are back to normal activity in two or three weeks. I am not sure if he says that to ease my fear, because everyone that I have spoken with that has gone through them describes them just as horrid as I feel after one.    I don't know if it's the amount of tumors I have in my liver, if its because my cancer is not "normal" liver cancer, or possibly the fact that I am a small framed lady.  Whatever the case is I am a mess for two to three months after. This last one has really kick me in the butt.  But every single one of those embolizations have given me some kind of shrinkage. Which makes it all worth it for me and my family.

Friday was my eight week scan to see if the treatment was a success.  I must announce there was some shrinkage in one of the larger tumors in the liver.  The other seven or so remained stable. I have to say Mark and I were extremely relieved that all the suffering lead to something good.  Of course I am still fighting this cancer at full speed and without God's miracle of healing I will be for the rest of my life.  Once again carcinoid is not curable.  Not curable may seem quite bleak when you think of life and death. However, none of us can avoid death.  My goal is to live long fighting this beast and keeping in control of it. 

So we are now back on the game plan.  My liver oncologist gave me some options.  First he wanted to schedule another chemoembolization for the other remaining tumors to be attacked.  Both Mark and I nearly fell off our chairs.  The thought of doing this again so quickly was unbearable.  Mark then spoke up and asked if that would be a good idea for me to go through this again with the pain I've been in and my blood levels nowhere near normal.  Then doc looked at some of my charts and agreed that I may need to wait awhile. Gee, thanks for your knowledge doc.  So we decided to plug forward and get me strong again. 

The second option was to get my body strong, control the pain and get my blood levels up so that I can get to Houston for the experimental treatment LU77.  It's been my plan all along and because of the new growth of the liver I had to put it on temporary hold.  However, its on again depending on how quick my body bounces back.  The third option I will leave for another day. In my opinion its one of the last options. 

To many it may seem that my news is not so good.  I am not in remission, my cancer is still through my body and there is no known cure right now.  To me and my husband our prays have been answered.  There was some shrinkage in the tumor that was giving me the most problems.  I am not accepting that one day I will not be cancer free. We know that "All things are possible through HIM".   However, I am thankful God has given me more time and more options.  In a few months my oldest son will be starting high school.  To many of my friends whose children are starting with him they are sad that time went so fast.  I understand that because I would of felt the same way if it wasn't for my cancer. Although, to me I am so thrilled that I am here to see it happen. The tears I cry this Sept. after he walks out the door on his big HS adventure are not the same fearful tears I cried on his first day of kindergarten.  They will be tears of relief that I am here for him.  They will be tears of joy that our family has made it this far.  I look back on three years ago and remember the doctor telling me to get things in order.....six months or less.  I remember saying to Mark on the car ride home from that appointment, I will never see them go to High School.  God has given me the opportunity to see them grow up three years older.  God has blessed me.  He is not done with me yet. 

Thank you for all you prays,

Sunny

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Never ask "why"

April 21st since my last post...what is wrong with me?  Well besides the obvious. 

Actually this last chemoemobolization has really knocked me down.  I hate to go into the details but the last couple of days I have been feeling a little bit back to normal.  What ever normal feeling is anymore for me. Also, I have had my focus on some other issues going on in my family.  My oldest is having surgery Monday on his knee.  A few weeks ago he tore his ACL, PCL, MCL and menisci legiments playing basketball.  We have been taking him to physical therapy and getting several opinion on doing surgery now while he is still growing or waiting until his growth is finished.  Fortunately, I found a doctor that actually does this extensive surgery without hindering the growth plate.  He is 14 and his growth plate is still completely open.  However, he will be out of sports for a total of 6 months.  For us cancer fighters that seems easy but for my teenager who eats, drinks and sleeps sports it was a big blow for him.  I know that through this pain he will learn something that will be more valuable then any baseball or basketball game could teach him. So please keep him in your prays on Monday and the rest of his recovery.  Between his appointments, my appointments and treatments I have had enough of anything that has to deal with health talk. 

I had this burning desire to post today.  I have started several entries but just could not find the right words to put down.  Actually I have done that several times in the last few weeks. I am not sure if it is because I am not right with myself.  Or maybe I have been so sick lately I just can't think about anything more then existing. I hope that neither is the reason but I am feeling it may just be.   Then I read something that a friend of mine posted on Facebook, yes I give into FB.  It was a quote from Coach Kay Yow, who passed away in 2009 from cancer.  The quote goes like this:

I am not saying "why?".  I am looking at all of the blessings I've had bestowed upon me.  How can I say 'why' or be upset with this one thing (cancer) that I am dealing with when I have all these other blessing.

There has been days just recently when I have thought for a minute or two that I cannot do this anymore.  I lose focus on the end results and get caught up in the pain and sickness of the treatments. But I don't ever want to ask why. I don't care why....I just want to enjoy what I do have.  Cancer sucks.  The treatments suck.  What it does to my family sucks.  But it does not control all the blessing I have in front of me.  After I got home from the hospital from this last battle I said to the boys as they were getting ready for school in the morning, "I am so lucky".  Of course I meant because they were helping out and getting themselves out the door.  Then my son looked at me and answered like a typical teenager, "what drug are you on Mom......Lucky.....not really MOM!".  I thought is was funny at the time because he did not see what I saw in front of me.  It took cancer for me to realize my boys bringing down laundry baskets, emptying the dishwasher, making sure I had everything I needed and picking up there rooms all before school started was a blessing. Never before I got sick would I expect them to do any of those things....I was the mom. It took cancer for me to see that having three boys with straight "A's", good attitudes and happy kids that God gave me some really special kids.  It took cancer for me to look at them and see the most amazing gifts I have. It took cancer for me to see what an amazing family I have. They are always then when I call and will do anything for my boys.  It took cancer for me to have such great friendships.  I have so many caring people in my life and what they have done for me is so valuable.   So as I continue to battle through I will continue to see those blessing.  I hope I never ask "WHY".

Sunny 

Also, I want to thank my R4R running angels for running an amazing marathon this weekend in Pittsburgh.  Mostly though I want to thank my dear friend Lisa Bernardi.  Every mile she runs this year is sponsored for my treatments.  Please see above for more.  Thank  you Lisa and I truly hope you are blessed like me through this journey.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The last post is not the way I want to leave this blog.  Let me update you on my progress and bring some positive thoughts.  Tomorrow will be three weeks post chemoembolization and I am finally feeling half myself.  The pain is controllable and everyday seems to be getting better.  In two weeks we will get another CT Scan to see if those creepy liver tumors are being strangled.  Depending on those results we take our next step of action.  Which would be PRRT treatment in Houston.

Now the medical side is summed up pretty quickly.  I know that many who read my blog want more about my medical and physical treatments.  However, I just have the hardest time giving my energy in writing about it. I do want to tell you that over the last three weeks I once again have found that I am so blessed with so many people helping us out.  Several times I am asked "how I do what I do?" and I have to tell you that I cannot get through these treatments without all the help I received.  My family basically taken over my three boys crazy schedule, dinners sent to my home so that my men were fed, rides for the boys to all their activities so that Mark could be with me, cards sent just when I needed them and mostly the enormous amounts of prays being said especially on April 1st and 2nd.  I wonder often how I can be so blessed to have so many people care about me and my boys.  Just knowing that Mark can send out one message and have hundreds spreading the word to pray for me is better then any medicine.  It may sound cheesy but I often wonder why I am so lucky to have so much love?  At one point going through this torturous treatment I said to Mark, "our boys will be okay no matter what happens to me".  He looked and shook his head yes with such conviction. Because I know that the I planted the seeds with them and that they have a amazing family and huge support system in our community.  Knowing that helps me focus on just beating the hell out of this cancer. 

I also wanted to let everyone know that on May 7th at Nesbits Bowling Alley in Plum a group of friends are holding a bowl-a-thon.  This is exactly what I am talking about when I say love.  The details are above and they are asking that you please register soon.  I am so humbled by their efforts to keep me fighting.  I truly hope you can all participate. 

Sunny

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back Home

Well Sunny is home and recovering from the latest Chemo-Immobilization treatment on the 1st.   She came home on Sunday and a couple of days have came and went and the pain and nausea that accompanies the procedure continues to come and go as well.   That first night at the hospital was a long hard one,  and even though she is far from comfortable now,  I know she would agree that the past couple of days have for the most part been a heck of a lot better than Friday night after the treatment.  I won't go into a lot of details because honestly having been by her side that night into Saturday morning it is a memory that is seared into my mind and not in a good way.  The pain orders were screwed up and she literally was in scream inducing pain for over fifteen hours straight.  It was hard enough on me to watch ,  listen, feel helpless,  I can't even imagine how it beat her up.  I have since shared that I have never witnessed a water boarding session...but it was like being two feet away from a loved one, your partner,  watching the CIA do their thing and not being able to do a damn thing to stop it.   It was truly a sad and painful reflection on UPMC and the first time that her care their hasn't been top notch.  They failed her that first night by not communicating.

It actually reached the brief moment that both of us in the midst of praying asked God if couldn't help the pain then maybe it was better if he just took her.   I know that seems impossible to believe knowing how hard she fights,  but this was absolutely the worst night of the entire "Cancer" journey yet.  Thank God that he had other ideas and in the morning when the Liver Dr came in, she began to rectify the situation and as it turned out,  was a fellow believer in the hands that are bigger than any doctors could ever be.  We remember a nurses aide,  Indian I think, coming in around four in the morning, just because she felt so bad for Sunny listening to her cry from down the hall,  that she wanted to offer anything to help comfort,  pop,  ice,  and then prayer.   It was touching and I think somehow showed both of us to keep the faith,  that He hadn't finished with Sunny just yet.  Then Sunday morning an intern from Sunny's liver doctors practice came in to check on her.  She was amazed at Sunny's turn around because she was the same intern on Saturday morning when the pain was at it's worse.  Not knowing by then who helped her get things under control I think she was the one that finally order the pain pump that was to be order in the begin.  The subject of faith came up and she asked Sunny what church she went too.  She then said that seeing Sunny sitting on the edge of the bed praying confirmed her faith.  There is more to that story but I will save that for Sunny. 

So much for not going into detail.  Now as I write this blog for her Tuesday evening,  she has been sitting with the kids and her mother,  has played a board game or two with Logan,  has helped with studying,  has watched Dancing With the Stars,  and all in all the positive "sunny " attitude is back even if her body isn't completely just yet. She is sick to her stomach and has not been able to eat much.  She has the usual side effects of the shakes, nausua, stomach issues and PAIN.  But she is Sunny.  She's exhausted but she still has her fight. 

I want to say thanks on her behalf and the rest of our family for all of the dinners, the soup,  the cards which arrive daily, the offers to help with the kids and their activities, and of course all of the prayers.  Looking back on the past couple of days,  there was a moment of desperation that has been followed by a reassuring sense that He most definitely is still in charge of all this.  And that enables her to keep on fighting to first recover from the treatment,  and focus on beating the disease. 

So keep us (especially her) in your thoughts and prayers and remember that even in your lowest moment , when you don't think or feel you can go on,  that its not really your call.  So refocus on Him ,  your family, your life,  and all of things that are important,  and stay positive and enjoy every chance you have to make a difference.

Mark