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

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".


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.