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, 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,