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, 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.