After a courageous 10 year fight battling Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Carney, of Plum, passed peacefully on Saturday, November 3. She was married to her devoted husband, Mark; and was a loving mother to Austen, Logan and Nolan; daughter of Patricia Jennings and the late James J. Jennings; daughter-in-law of Dale and Dottie Carney; sister of Judy Phillips (Ray Jr.), Lynn Pesta (Teddy), Michael Jennings (Vicki Lynn), James Jennings (Sue), Joseph Jennings (Elizabeth), Sheila Fortes (Jim); sister-in-law of Craig Carney (Julia). She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and was a true friend and inspiration to many.
In addition to being an inspiration to family and friends Sunny inspired carcinoid cancer patients across the globe through her blog, and then her book "The Sunny Side of Cancer. She spoke at numerous cancer events locally sharing stories of her journey which led her from Basel, Switzerland to all of the top Carcinoid Cancer specialists here in the states. She was an advocate for better diagnosis of the disease and for insurance coverage of treatments. She fought with grace and dignity, never letting the pain inside challenge her faith or diminish her love for life.
Memorials may be made to "Carney Family Fund", c/o S&T Bank, 2190 Hulton Road, Verona, PA 15147.
Friends received Monday 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday 3-8 p.m. at Unity Community Church, 215 Unity Center Road, Plum, PA 15239.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Unity Community Church with Rev. Frank Deluce officiating. Arrangements entrusted to CHARLES W. TRENZ FUNERAL HOME, INC.
VIEW GUEST BOOK Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Below is an entry that was written by Sunny's husband Mark when she had her third bout. To become updated on her journey please enjoy her posts.
Please check back for updates and event information.
Sunny's husband Mark tells their story...
A mother of three boys, a daughter, the baby sister to a large family, an aunt, a godmother to several, a trusted friend, an outreach volunteer, a business owner and my wife. Sunny Carney lives up to her name every time someone speaks to her; she is beautiful both in and out. She has been my biggest motivator, my rock and my inspiration in tough times, my biggest fan in good times, and most importantly my best friend. Told 14 years ago that having children may not be part of our future because of ovarian cancer, she kept the faith, and is a wonderful mother to our three sons- Austen, Logan, and Nolan. She is always ensuring that they know the Lord, love of life, kindness to others, hard work, and occasionally when to "shape up".
Her boundless energy, healthy lifestyle and positive attitude are infectious. She has served as president of our children’s PTA, organized committees that benefit those who are less fortunate in the community and led drives for those who have been caught up in unfortunate situations. She has done so much for others, usually without letting anyone ever know, I could not begin to list them. Her strong faith in God and modest upbringing has given her a sense of giving that only she can explain. When she successfully started her own photography business, she also started a non-profit division photographing family portraits for area families fighting cancer. Her friends say she is amazing and she simply shakes her head and wonders what all of the fuss is about.
Her mother, sisters, brothers and large extended family will tell you she is the one you can count on to lend an ear when needed and never judge. She was raised by her loving mother and father who was the warden of the Allegheny County Jail and actually spent most of her childhood in the residence connected to the jail. At a young age she witnessed more of life’s tragedies and obstacles through her neighbors, the prisoners, than most of us can imagine.
Although all of the aforementioned is remarkable it is not what makes her truly special. Sunny is a two time cancer survivor and now is currently fighting for a third time. After beating ovarian carcinoid cancer and undergoing serious surgery for carcinoid tumors in her right lung just three years ago, the carcinoid tumors returned in her lymph nodes, liver and bones. The size and proliferation throughout the liver of these tumors mandates immediate chemotherapy in four treatments over the next few months as well as monthly octreotide treatments. These painful treatments will hopefully stop the growth but are not a cure. There are numerous tumors in her spine, her skull, her hip, her leg, and her shoulder...all in the bones and she will wait on potential radiation to fight those.
What my wife has is Carcinoid Cancer Syndrome, an endocrine disease which is rare and spreads from organ to organ. As of right now the only known treatment for remission is administered by renowned clinics in Europe. However the treatment is not covered by our insurance. Our doctors have encouraged us to start raising money and matching grants could follow. Her lead oncologist strongly believes that Sunny would be a prime candidate to be a voice to get the message out regarding carcinoid cancer syndrome, bring this treatment to the United States and encourage approval from the FDA. Without this treatment, the tumors most likely will continue to metastasize in other organs and her fight will be ongoing. Sunny has set up The Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund to support her treatments. She believes that once she beats this cancer she can make a difference to others also suffering from Carcinoid Cancer.
Mark A. Carney
C/o S & T Bank
Friday, June 10, 2011
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.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
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,