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

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.