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, November 2, 2011

My Swiss roommate

I wanted to post today about my amazing weekend at Unity Church with my second book signing. I also wanted to tell you the wonderful experience I had speaking at three services about how my life has changed and the "Good in Cancer".  However, yesterday I had some devastating news and I think I need to give honor to someone who fought the great fight of Carcinoid cancer.

Another one of my carcinoid posse has passed and this one has hit me hard.  Kathy Pelkey had lost her battle on October 30th.  Kathy and I met in Switzerland when we were the only two Americans there receiving the experimental PRRT treatment.  We were actually roommates. I think God put her there to help me get through two very rough nights.  When I arrived first at the hospital the nurse that checked me in said that they only have one room that is not a single room and I am lucky enough to get it.  I remember looking at Mark with a bit frustration because I felt a little cheated that I was paying all this money and now I have to share a tiny European room with another very ill patient.  I believe I made a comment  about hoping they speak English and the nurse came back with, "you and her are the only Americans so we thought you can help each other".  Mark was relieved that I would have someone in the room with me since they kicked him out before noon that day. 

When Kathy and her husband came into the room to check in just about an hour after me I felt such a sense of peace.  She had children just a little bit younger then me and I felt like she was my mom.  Mark and her husband got along really good too.  After the men left, I went to get the magic drug first and I remember her giving me a wink as I walked out the door. Her knowing exactly the anxiety I was trying to hide because she was trying to her anxiety too.   When I got back to the room she had already went to the dungeon to get her expensive life saver.  After about an hour we were both sitting in the room bored out of our mind.  We played cards, ate together and we talked a lot.  There was no curtain or anything to separate our beds...just night stands. We each had our own television however the room was so small we kinda had to watch the same channel, but there was only two American speaking stations so that didn't matter. I believe we watch some "I love Lucie" reruns and I remember he laughing so happily.  We talked about our children and her grandchildren.  I could tell she was a complete hands on mom.  She talked with such pride about them.  When her husband came in to visit you could just see the love in his eyes.  I remember him saying that he would do anything to save her. 

The first night was really hard for me.  I was in a lot of pain and really sick to my stomach.  Kathy did not have as many tumors as I so she took the treatment much better then I did. I felt horrible because I was so sick I kept her up all night.  She did not seem to care at all, she actually was helping me.  She comb my hair because it was getting in my face when I would get sick.  She even sat in the chair close to my bed for awhile to help me with the bucket when I needed it.  Truly just an angel.  However all of that is not what I admired most about Kathy.  The first night of our stay after we talked for hours Kathy asked me if I was a Christian.  I then reached in my bag and pulled out my Bible.  She opened the draw of the night stand and pulled out her Bible too. 

At that time we talked about our favorite scriptures and she told me about things that had happen to her in life that where amazing miracles. It was not one of those highly "Bible pumping" talks that can make you nervous; it was just a natural talk. It was such a nice time that we spent together across the ocean saving our lives.  Kathy was from Minnesota so she had that cute accent and it was fun to listen to her speak.  She guessed that Mark and I were from New York because she said we talked to fast she couldn't keep up.  When I told her from Pittsburgh she talked about the Steelers.  It was like having my mom right next to me.  My Pastor always says, "you go nowhere by accident.  Wherever you go, God is sending you.  Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has something He wants to do in you, or through you, where you are."

I believe Kathy was my roommate for a reason.  I grew up in a very large family and had to share a room for a long time.....even three to four in a room.  So I am a bit selfish about  my space as an adult.  Poor Mark only gets a little space in our California King size bed.  However, I am glad that God infringed on my comfort zone.  I kept in touch with Kathy for awhile, then it we lost touch. So we I heard the news from her daughter that she had passed I felt a little bad that I lost contact.  I do know that her because of her faith and the example that she showed me she is in a more glorious place that we can ever imagine. 

Next post I promise will be the joy I felt this weekend.