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
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I am happy to report the flight on the way home was uneventful. Of course I was really sick and in some pain but we were able to fight through it. The airlines changed our tickets and gave us a whole four seater row. Of course I tried to talk them into an upgrade to a least business class but I guess a 90 lbs cancer mother from Pittsburgh is not worth the upgrade and when they told us they would be happy to for $3000 a ticket I almost lost my breakfast again. We were three rows back from First class and perfect. I was able to stretch out and when I did get sick to my stomach no one was able to hear or see me much. Mark was wonderful. Truly great. He held the bag for me to upchuck in and covered me up with a towel so not many saw. We joked about it that he learned how do this in college when I would party a little too hard. I never like anyone see me look gross. Actually, that is how I felt, like I had one of those old college hangovers. The ones I tell my teenagers you get EVERYTIME you drink when your body is not mature enough to handle it. I think it's kept them away so far because they can't bear to see me sick so the fear of them feeling that way has detored them thus far....I think. Mark carried everything through all of our layovers we had. For some reason on each one we landed at the A termanal and took off at the X and Z termanal. I honestly could not make that up. In Germany we asked ahead of time for a wheelchair but I'm guessing they call them something else over there because when we got off the plane there was no wheelchair. Mark said I probably would not of let them push me anyways. So we trucked our butts through customs and to termanal X and he carried everything. At one point he even wanted me to get on his back, of course he was joking.
As we were sitting on the long 9 hour flight from Germany to Philly. I got really sick. I started sweating and vomiting. He was just wonderful. He helped me through it all. At one point he just held me and prayed. The plane was full of people but I don't think we even noticed. Of course most were sleeping and it was dark. When I finally got settled I started thinking that this is so not what we had planned for our lives that hot July day 17 yrs ago when we said I do. We had so many goals and dreams. We were so young and vain. Both with successful starts of our career. We were carefree and somewhat independent of each other. We were in love and close but not that couple that always had to be together kissing and hugging. We had faith and prayed together but nothing like we have now. I know he loved me then but when he looked at me he saw beauty. That is what his first attraction was to me....my looks. Not my heart, my fight, or anything else. As I was sitting there I thought how unfair it is for him now. He thought he was getting this beautiful, high spirit wife and now he is sitting next a fragile terminally ill wife. He didn't want to be holding a puke bag or flying half way across the world to see her cry in pain. I'm sure he did not want to work his butt off to only have his vacation be a trip to Switzerland sitting in a hospital watching his wife be stuck and pricked. He never thought he would be the one taking care of me. I have to admit the first years of our marriage I thought he was quite lucky to have me. It sounds conceded now but I was pretty strong and confident that he got a great catch.
As I was thinking I guess a tear ran down my face. He saw it and wiped it. He then gave me a thumbs up and mouthed, "you can do it, last big hurdle". I shook my head yes and then told him what I was thinking. He looked at me so funny. He then explained to me that the times he spends with me fighting this nasty devil is so special to him. He told me I taught him so much about life that he would of never learned or experienced if I did not marry him. I could not believe what he was saying. He said he would never changed one minute except make it all go away now. Mark and I have had many struggles besides cancer in our marriage. Of course every marriage has difficulties. We were raised very differently and those differences came to head many times over the years. Mark has always been very social and loves a great party. I was raised with many brothers and sisters so my parties were with my family. We had several differences on raising the boys. Mine being they are to always be best friends, respect each other, and the boys were to put their brothers first before any friend. Mark disagreed with me about alot of the family togetherness and the emphasis I put on the three muskenteers. Mark has a small family. Mark worked 12 hour days and then was very social with clients at night. I was more about being together and material things were not as important as being with each. We are both very driven however many times what drove us was not the same thing. So putting the cancer aside we had other issues to overcome too.
As we started talking it hit me that even though we may seem to sometimes want to just choke each other there is no way we could do this without each other. The bond a couple gets while battling the cancer beast is something that seems impossible to break. The way we were raised or family values are not important when you only have each other. I remember when we were told about this last diagnosis and that it was defiantly terminal. I went home and started doing research and remember reading that 75% of marriages break up when a family has been stricken with cancer. The number did not even shock me at the time because we had been through this once before and I knew it was a rough emotional road for a marriage. I showed the report to Mark and he pooed it off but immediately made an appointment with our pastor. That's when it occurred to both of us I think, though we never talked about it, that we needed to let God control the marriage. Trust me its not been easy. We have struggled at times and we both can be selfish at times. Of course him more then me, just joking. But even when things seem hopeless with us we somehow get it back together. I know it's because God is part of it all. On Sunday I was hiding in my room sick, not wanting the boys or my mom seeing me, and Mark came in to check on me. He sat next to me and kept saying it'll pass Sun.....I promise this will pass. I said to him that he has really has seen me at my worse more then I have seen me. I asked him if he ever wants someone else to take over for a bit so he can get a break. He said, "I will never let you go to Switzerland with anyone else because I would feel so disconnected to you right now. I would never understand what you are going through if I wasn't right there with you. Not to mention you are the ying to my yang". I laughed and told him never to say the ying yang thing again....sounds nerdy. I then got what he was saying.
So as much as we drive each other crazy. I have to say Mark can drive many people crazy with his aggressive, loud and obsessive personality. I of course am perfect but need to say I probably get on his nerves too being so perfect.....of course joking. We have been through so much together that many marriage don't go through in 50 years. I do sometimes wish we could go back to the July day and smack us both but I feel really blessed we are so far beatting the statistics. Those that are close to us and are reading this are probably shaking there heads. It's not a secret that Mark and I are polar opposites and both very stubborn. But I think they would also know that there is so much love there too. It's not a love of beauty or pipe dreams anymore. Its a love of perseverance and strength. So much more. When we are celebrating our 50th anniversary we will probably argue about what to wear to the party and how much time HE is taking to get out the door. We will probably do the same annoying ticks that drive each other crazy. But we will be so much more in love then we are right now. I am looking forward to that. I guess what I am trying to say is no realationship is perfect but the struggles we go through are so important. If we let God in you can get through it all.
I started this post Monday morning and just finished it at 8 am Tuesday. So I guess its been a little bit of a struggle since I've been back. Please keep praying that I start to keep food down and the pain lessens.
Thanks for following us last week. Mostly thanks for loving me through this battle.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Today is Friday and TGIF has never meant more than on this particular one. Sunny has had an up and down day, but the ups were a little higher than yesterday and the downs were a little less severe. Today's big challenge has been trying to keep food down. This is a common side effect from the treatments the previous two trips as well as treatments back home. The pain she has suffered from in the back and hip in particular is also a good sign that the injection is taking. However it is somewhat possible that the HD Swiss sleeping "komfort" kit plays a part as well. HD...as in hard damn...I have never actually slept at a four star hotel where the queen beds consisted of two small Euro size singles pushed together. And box springs...that must be a term they know only has a mechanism to open a Jack in Der box. On the flip side the service has been tremendous from the front desk and all the way around since the moment they rushed to get us an early checkin last Saturday.
It's hard to fathom that a week has gone by. This truly has been a roller coaster of a ride straining the emotional edges to the point of fraying past the point of no return to physically taking Sunny to the limits of her sanity to get by. Reading I Corinthians 12 two nights ago I was struck by something Paul wrote regarding the gifts of the Spirit. Wisdom was first and knowledge and then faith...all gifts from the same Spirit...of course others followed. Sunny is often a little embarrassed regarding some of the hoopla around her story...she is often genuinely confused as to why others want to help her because she has inspired them in some way...and I think I have finally got insight. God has gifted each of us uniquely and we are held accountable to use those gifts so he gets the glory. By choosing to fight everyday and believing that God is with her at every step and by letting her "have faith" message be sewn for all to witness...she is employing the gift of faith...that is her ministry.
Whew. I didn't quite expect to have this blog go in that direction since I have been more of the Bart Simpson of the Basel Blog duo...the Costello to Sunny's Abbott. I don't want you to think it's terrible to be stuck in Basel on a Friday night. We have the BBC version of AFV to watch(Youve Been Framed) as well as two hours of recent American Idol reruns to watch. The British are all in a tizzy because apparently Steven Tyler is now on the show. I turned down a generous offer from the concierge for two billettes for tonight to the Euro Badminton Championships going on now here in Basel. Pinch me. Earlier today Sunny had serious heartburn and set me off to Der Apothecary at the COOP by Swissotel. The young Der Fraulina finally bailed me out as she watched me meander through the Playtex and assorted other "Damen" aisles before not grasping what Tums or Rolaids or when I shouted ANTACID at her(because after all when you don't understand always scream like the person is deaf) until finally rubbing my belly and pointing to my heart she sold me the $12 US box of Rennie's. Chalk another one up for your Stupid Amerikan story treasury. This is just hours after finishing a shave with the Swissotel's complimentary razor---one blade...like a white plastic half a bic disposable...this thing couldn't shave a point spread let alone a face. Looked like I just paid for a coiffure treatment in the Mr MacGoo school of Coif and Face Butchering. AAH.
Seriously, tomorrow we travel back to the states. Back home. It will be a nine hour middle leg from Frankfurt to Philly---bratwurst and pushy people to cheesesteaks and pushy people. Keep us in your prayers. The first leg over the Alps is truly as close as you can be to experiencing God's majesty because they are impressive. Nuff said. Impressive. That flight usually has twenty people in a sixty or seater. Plus the free Meuslix and Blueberry flavored Eco-Milk is always a treasure. It will be that middle leg that the praying in earnest begins. So please back home don't forget us...especially Sunny's comfort.
Finally, and I know I have alluded to this already in postings this week I want to give some mad props to all of you who continue to be a blessing to the Carney family. Whether it was in some way helping to raise the money that made this treatment a reality....or whether you cooked a meal and then drove over to drop it off...or whether you left the office early to watch a game or you have played Jeeves this week and driven my kids from one activity or another...or if you bowed your head ,closed your eyes and prayed...these things and so much more have been a real blessing. We only hope that your blessings come as you have done for us and that we can be part of them.
So to all u YUNZERS we can't wait until Saturday night when we exit those filthy concrete tunnels and the most dramatic Cityscape in the world magnificently unfolds in front of us...Then we know...almost home....almost home...almost home.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Once I got the initial injection I felt a little shaken and light headed but ok. Then as the day progressed with close monitoring from the doctors, my pain started to increase and my blood pressure started to drop. The care was wonderful and so attentive. They checked on me every half and hour. It just got out of control so quickly. I know in the back of the doctors mind was the, "I told you so" saying but never once did they say that to me. At one point on Tuesday morning about 5 am I think I had seven doctors and three nurses in my room. They finally got my pain under control, gave me some meds for the blood pressure and did some other things I don't even know. We skipped all the activities I had to do with the treatment on Tuesday and scheduled scan so that I could get a little stronger. I must say the change from Monday evening until Wed morning was amazing. I was able to get through two 25 minutes each scans and back to my room in an hour resting. The results of the scans were very good. The Y90 had great uptake which explains the intense pain. The doctor explained to me that bone tumors are extremely painful especially when its with someone that is so thin and has no room for the swelling to go. Also the location of the spine and shoulders is the first place the Y90 goes so it explains the pain. The stressed that this is not normal and actually never saw it this bad. So please don't be afraid of this treatment. But they did stress they were very concern.
I have to admit I was so sick but felt that all the prayers where going to work. I just knew that God was with me. While writing this blog I think about the journey its been to get me to this treatment. There is just no way this was not the right choice. Of course I wish my health was stronger before I could get here but time was not on my side. Today Dr. Mars came into the room and peeked his head behind the steal wall where my bed laid. My small suit case was packed and I was dressed with my coat on the bed. He gave me a big smile and said, "I was afraid of what I was going to see, but so happy to see the same smile I saw on Monday". I then told him I was ready to go. He okayed it but said he did not suggest I leave until next week. But unless things get worse that is not an option for us now. I really need to get back to good old Pittsburgh. Not to mention the daily cost here are outragous.
When I got back to the hotel I walked into the room only to be surprised with the largest bouquet of tulips from Holland I have ever seen. Just gorgeous in the back of the room. Peter brought them all the way to me. In the hospital I had a few conversations with one of the nurses who has been searching for his life with God. One of the things he said to me was that he never sees miracles anymore. I was shocked and I asked him what he meant. He said in Jesus's time the miracles where so huge and marvelous. Well I had to disagree with him, because I see them all the time. I see them just as big if not bigger then the Bible times. I think we just have so many distractions we miss them. Truly Wednesday was a miracle. My being here is a miracle. This treatment I believe is my miracle. I just choose to see them and look for them. I explained that to him but I am not sure he got it.
After resting a bit when I got back to the room I opened up some emails, only to find out that one of my carcinoid posse and huge advocate for carcinoid community had passed away. I could not help but feel an overwhelming punch in the gut. But then after thinking about Steve Murrah fight I felt a sense of pride that we had a man who lead the way for a lot of us. He tried every treatment out there for years. Some kept him here longer but he never gave into this cancer. My sadness for his death turned to what his family must be thinking today, "My husband, my father, my son, my brother and my friend did not quit and paved a road for others fighting this cancer. " That is why I do what I do. I want my family, especially Mark and my boys, and friends to say that I never gave up. I want them to say I did everything I could do and I made a difference doing it for others. So I stop feeling sorry for Steve and his family because I know that is not what he wanted. He wanted us to learn from his fight and be happy when he had peace.
To end this blog I want to tell you that Mark and I did get out for about an hour and grab some real food. On the way back to the hotel we stop in a sports store so I could pick up my three favorite guys a trinket or two and back to the room we went. I napped and Mark caught up on some work so he could pay for all this stuff I am putting him through. Thank you all for your support. I want to write so much more but I am having trouble keeping my eyes open. So until tomorrow know that I am so happy to be out. So thrilled to get through this treatment. Most of all so blessed to have you all at home for me and my family.
Love to all,
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Our day began with a series of scans this morning at 0800 down in Zimmer-01...one floor above the treatment dungeon one floor below ground. Martin deftly rolled her wheelchair and IV cart through one sliding glass door and the last and presto we were in the scan area waiting room. Er I mean waiting hall. Clean efficient and friendly, stocked with community bottled waters to pour into cups, abundant with magazines though English nein. When they say 0800 they mean 0800 and Sunny was back in the five minute body scan quick transition to the 20 minutes CT scan. She did great and we look forward to results. She originally was supposed to check out of Der hospitaal this morning but we already discussed it would be better to leave Thursday morning so we took red Lift back to Nuklear Medizin Zimmer 4-2.
The afternoon was spent catching up on some much needed rest. She has physically been through a lot this week and mentally it has been challenging to stay the least. I think of the scripture where we will be tested in order to get stronger...that tribulation brings perseverance which develops character leading to hope thorough faith. Sunny has certainly had a chance to build perserverance which is why her faith is so strong. I know that thorns on roses become buds and then flower...much like the "thorns" of our daily hurt if they don't hurt will eventually blossom into something spectacular. Here's one to living life with a vase full of a beautiful bouquet and not life with a thorny overgrown weed.
Dinner. I want to get back to that subject because it was worthy of it's own blog on how not to sustain a hospitaal patient on the road to recovery. As you recall, yesterday we ventured into the exciting culinary world of Swiss/Mex cuisine. Tonight Sunny was treated to the finest version of tatertot/crab cake/mystery dry baked ball surprise that resembled burnt browned bouncy balls than anything I would feed even to our dog...and some of you may know Oscar is not real choosy when it comes to his palate. They were served with a baked squash, or at least we think it was. It looked more like a baked potato with a sunburn. Now keep in mind one of the side effects of this treatment is acid indigestion and nausea. I mention that because they complimented the entrees with Mediterranean soup which looked like spicy minestrone and a side salad with zesty Italian two hard bran rolls(?) and an even harder pear. As Shaggy would say...zoinks. Time for a scooby snack.
So she got to eat pretzel sticks and und bread stick and almond biscotti from starbucks and banana and apple all from COOP...you remember from 2009 thats the local Giant Eagle. Got to learn the meaning of another German or French sign checking out at COOP...apparently Binette and something else means Please go to other lane....you know the equivalent of "lane closed" or "I am going on my break stupid amerikan". Ah well travel and learn. I couldn't say anything if I could speak the language because Der Polizia were buying their coffee and donuts in line next to me before getting back on their bike patrols.
We just spoke and she is resting comfortably again so I want to take the time to share a few other little things Sunny and I have picked up on since returning here to Basel...
-All the taxis, police cars, firetrucks, ambulenzas, and sanititaation trucks are all Mercedes or Beamers...
-A Big Mac can cost 10 us dollars...
-Doctors can wear jeans when making rounds as long as they head up the department...
-Ice is frowned upon because even they are mere miles away from some of the freshest water and coldest Alp ranges I n the world refrigeeration is an issue....
-Smoking is not frowned upon...in fact even they put aborted fetus pictures on packs apparently...I even saw a poodle light up...
-Swiss cheese is not a room freshened...in fact it is quite the opposite....
-Although all traffic stops to let pedestrians cross, everyone including 90 year old babushka sporting grandmas will knock an American over to get by on tram...
-Trains and buses have stops with signs where they use sensors en route to accurately predict the exact moment of arrival...at PAT in Pittsburgh they use they same concept only it's on paper and it's to tell you what exact days your bus runs...
-These are a serious not often smiling bunch over here...probably like a sports bar in Baltimore last Sunday afternoon...
-They don't know what Tebowed is...but they have heard of Mitt....
-The occupy Basel crowd wears cheap Swiss watches costing under 2000francs($2500)...damn 1%...
Ah well I should save some for later in the week. Sunny fully intends to pick back up tomorrow so in case this is bye bye I want to say again thanks for following her story, for praying, and for helping in anyway you can. We are truly blessed.
PS WQED 360. THURSDAY 1/26 @ 7:30 PM. SUNNYVISION BEGINS. please watch and/ or record and enjoy.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
On this Thursday evening at7:30PM on WQED 360 The Carney family led by our very own Sunny will make their reality TV debut. actually it's a documentary but it was well put together and it once again gives insight into Sunny's ongoing fight with Carcinoid Cancer and more importantly how she chooses to not let it define who she is. So make some popcorn...set your DVR's and let's make this the highest rated show on Channel 13 since Mister Roger's last episode.
The good dr mars called for Der pain team...and when they came they listened asked questions and determined that the best course was to do exactly what has worked for back home after immobilzations. I am glad to report that although the scans had to be pushed back to Wednesday, that she was able to catch up on some much needed rest as the afternoon and evening passed by. The plan is to still return to the states on Saturday.
It was physically hard for her and mentally draining for both of us but I can tell you she never completely lost her sense of Sunny. She managed to mention to every nurse and doctor that the tv goes only to two stations after nine and one was a "porn" version of MTV and the other was a continuous loop of Weakest link reruns. (she joked she knew all of the answers). By lunch she was able to get up and shuffle over to her table and eat a couple of the shrimp, although she left the black noodles alone. Actually when I saw it I thought of Indiana Jones in Temple of Doom and wondered where the heck the monkey brains were. I went out to Starbucks and got her a Rasberry Cheesecake which she ate entirely with her hospital gelati.
I can only tell you that the chilled squid surprise for lunch was actually the highlight of the food portion of her day. For dinner she was served two enchilada looking things oozing in some type of hot sauce garnished with a whole red chili pepper. Honestly I can't make this stuff up. I guess the Swiss Miss was replaced in the kitchen by Ricardo Ricola, mad pursuit of that well known food genre Swiss/Mex. Holy crap. I went out and scored us two Big Mac meals "take away" for a mere 28 US dollars. Forgot they don't but ice in the Coke light cups and if you don't know what happens when holding a McD bag with two drinks no ice not filled all the way try it sometime....on a tram....and then exit real fast when one slips...no is crushed in your hand and coke light runs onto the floor almost drowning a full grown border collie that happens to be lying at your feet because for some reason you don't have to be s seeing eye dog to ride these trains. Once again stupid amerikan strikes.
So seriously getting back up to Zimmer 4 and getting back to her Sunny has flipped to BBC Entertainment station and some show called Doctors which I guess is a weekly drama but is so surgically graphic it makes CSI and ER look like Dr Seuss. I don't think noticed the pumping open heart surgery going on mere meters in from of her thank God because she was getting resituated in bed. She began to nod off and on and I am happy to say that when mandatory Departue Zeit comes at 8:00 I was able to leave her in a much better state than when I first saw her at 0700 that morning. Walking out of the now mostly darkened hospitaal A few doctors were by the lifts in Der lobby(Zimmer 0). with the pitted patter of feet smartly echoing off the antiseptic like floors and whispered German bouncing off the walls I felt like that kid in Pink Floyds the wall. All that was needed was just another brick.
it's hard to fathom the incredible journey that Sunny's fight to beat Carcinoid has taken us on but I wouldn't want to have it anyway other way. Se will beat this. this is another lap in the race. The blessings we have been given as a result of prayers answered helps both of us and I think family and close friends to have the peace that comes with having the faith that if Sunny is willing to do her part God will always do his.
I haven't quite the knack yet of keeping these things short or even concise at times but I will try again tomorrow. Please pray. And then do it again. Thanks and goodnight from Basel.
Monday, January 23, 2012
The young doctor...a Dr Mars... I kid you not...was very thorough and answered every question regarding the injection and process afterwards. I think at one point he was paged because he was late for recess...and I only say that because Doogie Howser is John McCain compared to how young the good dr appeared. But as I mentioned he was thorough...the injections...the first scan which would be done at nine on Tuesday morning ...the second series of scans on Wed morn and if all went well back to our little enclave at Swissotel. After putting the IV Amino drip in to protract the kidneys while Sunny got "nuclear" the good dr mars left and Pierre returned to review meal options. Let's just say I didn't know what "jacket potatoes" are and this afternoon's lunch gave sunny no answer either. Apparently beets...ground chuck and mayo consist of the ingredients with fried potatoes chunks....I don't believe that campbell's will be calling for this secret recipe anytime soon. Anyways...Pierre did the rest of the meal selection with her and it was time to go for me and time to go to the bowels of the hospital for her....floor -2. Two levels below the main floor.
Thank goodness I had our buddy Peter who once again was kind enough to drive down from Holland to hang with because it really is possible to feel alone in a city of fifty thousand or more. At least knowing the basics of the routine Sunny would be going through takes away some of the angst. She called a little after three wanting some real food and Coke Lights dropped off because of the aforementioned potato surprise lunch. When I got into her room she Pierre was in there taking out the IV drip and talking to Sunny about a near death heart attack experience he had. How it had given him a glimpse into his faith and that though he was growing in his walk with God he sensed in Sunny the presence of the holy spirit. It was a pretty amazing moment to hear our short slightly balding neon croc wearing Germsn lisp speaking English nurse have this conversation with Sunny. I guess neither one of us had ever really thought about God fearing Europeans on our previous trips because though there are spectacular centuries old churches abundant in Basel...some are museums some are restaurants and none seem to jump out at you and say come worship here. It was surely not a coincidence that Pierre who says is constantly looking to grow "in the spirit" was on today and was Sunny's nurse. A certain favorite pastor of ours back home always says "you go no place by accident that wherever you go God has not only brought you there but more importantly he is with you there". Trust me when I share that this was never more visible to us than right at that moment.
Sunny looked good considering every thing she has gone through but they were concerned with her blood count and weight loss. They will be monitoring tonight and throughout closely. After resting a little this afternoon Pete and I dropped off some dinner and more Coke Light and I was able to see her pain was increasing a touch but her spunk was still there. As the evening wore on and turned into night and then late night the pain has definitely ratcheted up. we have been on the phone quite a bit trying to help her keep her mind off of it. I can tell it sucks. that is the primary reason why this blog is so late in coming and may seem a bit scatterbrained. All I can say is that I will try blogging for our Sunshine again tomorrow but in the meantime please pray for her. And then say one more. And don't forget to add in the boys back home with Grandma as they go about their day.
Thanks to all of you in advance and thanks to everyone back home who is driving Carney boys around...dropping off meals...and just offering to help in anyway. It is truly a blessing for Sunny to not have to dwell on those things.
Finally...and I promise this really is it...a certain other pastor who I watch and read regularly believes that we should rejoice in our tribulations because it is through our "mess" whatever it may be that we form our "message". Sums it up pretty well. Talk to yunz tomorrow.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Well I came back to the room and Mark and Pete stayed out. I have to I am now replaying the past experience of tomorrow and the rest of the week. It'll be fine and I will get through it. I check in at 10 am and should have the treatment running through my veins. I am packed and ready to go. I am really at peace and have this great feeling its going to wipe this nasty cancer right out of me. Please keep praying for me that I minimal about of side effects and I am out by Wed. ready to get on the plane by Saturday home to the boys.
Mark post tomorrow will be so much more entertaining. I am have trouble keeping my eyes open. Please keep posted. Boys please continue to be doing well for everyone and know that I love. That is why I am here.
Sorry so short I'm still getting use to the time change and need to get some sleep.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Of course that flight from Newark to Germany was much tougher this year then the trips before. My bone mets have spread and the old ones have grown. There where a few hours that I just closed my eyes and prayed, Eventually, I would pull myself together and get through it. We got to our hotel at about 9:00 am Basel time and both Mark and I where completely whooped. Just dead dog tired and I was crying in some pain. However, I completely forgot to ask what time was check-in when I booked the room. The lady behind the desk was so sweet, she said we would not be able to check in until two in the afternoon. At that time I felt the anxiety for the first time since we left home. How would I make it that long? I was vomiting, the pain is was so bad I am unable to even open my mouth. Not to mention I needed toothpicks to hole my eyes open. Then Mark begged her to get a room clean fast. For the tenth time that day he began to tell my whole story. I hate when he starts doing that in public but Mark talks about it with such pride. And people listen in such wonder. I get uncomfortable because I know its not me that gets me through this.....its the "Man Upstairs". Of course I get that pathetic look of feeling sorry for me which really make me squirm. After Mark pulling on some heart strings the front desk clerk promised us the first room clean. We were up in a room with in an hour and half.
Our friend Peter is coming to visit us from Amsterdam tonight and we are heading out to meet him for a bite to eat. Which I am sure is going to mean me eating then getting exhausted and leaving Peter and Mark to have a good time on their own. Somehow I think they don't mind that. I had already checked in at home and everyone is doing great. Shoveling out from a storm back in the burgh but nobody misses us yet. Wish that was the case for me. As soon as the taxi left the airport and started driving the streets of Basel to our hotel the memory of our last stays became so vivid. The gloom of sky, the garfette on the buildings and the bikers steering in and out of the way of our cab. Similar to the city of Pittsburgh just older but this is not home. This is where I spent weeks sick without my family. Mark reached over in the cab and grab my hand and said, "you made it Sun." . That is when I started seeing the surroundings differently. The doom and gloom memories became feelings of hope and accomplishment. The swiss grafitti that I could not read became art.
I know that the only way we got here is through prayer. I can not imagine getting as far as I have with my battle without God. He has put people in my life that have rallied behind me to make this possible. He has given us opportunities that only he could create. He was given me strength at times when I did not think I could give anymore. Just in our 16 hour journey today, or yesterday wherever you are reading this, He was pulled me through. The past two weeks of preparing for this journey I have strengthen my faith as well. I am really giving this whole journey to Him and letting Him drive the car. He has gotten us through so many obstacles to get here. There is no way it is not going to be successful.
Please keep praying for us. Mostly please pray for my family at home. Thank you all whole are taking care of them. From bringing dinners, to rides, to being on call when needed. Mark and I know we could not get through this without that help. We will be posted daily so please keep checking back.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
On the treatment part I am ready. It's been a long road preparing for this. We have had obstacles that have got in the way but have not stopped us. I am really at peace with my decision and my faith is what I am completely leaning on at this moment. We have been on this adventure before and know that at times it is difficult but we are praying the benefits out weigh the stress and financial burden. The last two treatments in Switzerland may not of shrunk any of the tumors but did keep me stable for awhile. I have this strong feeling....call it my gut or my faith that this one is going to be the one that does wonders.
I want to thank everyone who helped us make this possible. I feel so amazingly blessed that I am going and have this opportunity. Also, I want to thank my entire family for staying with my boys and taking care of them. I can only hope that when we come home they ask us why we are here so soon. Please continue to pray for me. I know that your prays are the only thing that has gotten me through this whole battle. I have seen miracles happen when I ask for pray. I feel that this trip is that big miracle we have all been praying for. Please pray that long plane ride is as pain free as possible. Please pray that I am home as soon as possible.
Mark and I will be updated the blog daily. Please keep updated.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I have to say recently the closer my trip to Basel, Switzerland comes the more anxiety I WAS feeling about the whole decision we made to attempt this treatment and trip again. I look back to the very first time I went to Basel to receive my first treatment there and compare myself to how I feel today. The fact that I am more advanced then I was and much weaker really took the best of my nerves. Making that long voyage across the ponds was a fright all in itself. Just driving in a car longer then an hour is extremely painful for me. Then receiving the PRRT radiation therapy that the Swiss doctors are hesitant in giving me because of my state added to the scare. Lastly, after making it through the treatment then traveling back home SICK and in even more PAIN then how I left just completely took over my anxieties. I have to add the expense of the whole trip and what taking that money away from my family's everyday living will do to them just put me over the edge for awhile.
Like I always do I fake my fear very well. I knew that if I let everyone who loves me see my fear I would have to listen to the very same things I say to everyone else. So I put my game face on for a few weeks and tried muscled my way through the fears and anxiety. However, they never went away. In fact they kept getting worse. Every little obstacle that got in the way seemed like huge mountains. First it was the hotel Mark and I like to stay at and has accommodated me so well, was completely booked. Then the exchanged rate changed making my treatment much more expensive. Austen was getting the okay to go back to sports after nine months of being off from surgery and his very first game was the exact day we were leaving. We would miss Nolan's birthday. We then got this huge medical bill for a treatment that I already had and insurance decided that they were not going to cover it. So of course after paying that bill (believe me I fought the fight before anyone emails me with suggestions) we were left short for the treatment cost. Also, let me add that the loan we had been pre-approved for a few months ago we were turned down for when we went to pick up the check. So we were even more short the finances. I knew and had been told by my oncologist that this treatment is my only option. There is nothing left. So the feeling of defeat set in.
After feeling so hopeless and having no ideas of how I was going to swing this trip I FINALLY turned to my faith. Why did it take that long??? I got down on my knees and with tear streaming down my face I GAVE IT TO HIM. I asked God what all these obstacles meant. Was He showing me that this treatment was the wrong choice? Was he telling me to quit trying all these experimental things and enjoy my time here? I begged Him to show me His Will for me. Guide me to where I am suppose to be. For the heck of it I wrote to Bidget, the contact person at the Universitätsspital Basel. Earlier when we schedule the date she told me that January 5th was my only option until March. I knew that I could not wait until March. Daily I see my condition worsening. Anyways I asked her if she had any cancellations for a week or two later. She said that just the day before a patient for Jan. 23rd cancelled. Time is what I needed to pull all the obstacles together. That is when my prays to God was answered. I knew then that I had to take the chance of this treatment because it is His Will and He will be with me. It was like a wave knocked me over.
I am ashamed that my strong faith flickered a little. Of course the circumstances have not changed. We are still scraping our money together. Austen had a set back his second day back to basketball, got knocked in the jaw and is out another week. The hotel price went from $295 a night to $695 a night but there was an opening. Of course we had to go elsewhere because the closet of a room we get for that price is by far not an option now. The boys schedules are nuts. Each one going different place at the same time and Plum is not the easy place to get around if you are not from the area. And of course that miracle of healing has not hit yet. I am still in pain and the flight is going to be tough. Although, since I gave it to God and let Him take control of the above I am at peace with it all. I have confidence we will make it, the treatment will be fine and we will be back before we know it. My hope is that when we walk through the red door of our home after this cancer adventure the boys look at us and say, "why are you home so soon?".
"The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you"
Once you try it, drop me an email and let me know what happens.
Love to all,
PS - look above on the right side at "in the Media" at the link for the Post today. A very lovely article was written.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
2012 is here and I am here. As I reminisce about the end of one year and celebrate the coming of a new year I cannot help but go back to the post I wrote a year ago (which I republished below. A year ago today I had just had my femur and hip replaced because the cancer had eaten through those bones. It was a tough recovery now looking back and many of you know that oops of the surgery, however I did awaken from the surgery with my leg. Even though it is not perfect and I have some issues the doctors where able to save it. Only three years prior I would of had it amputated. So truly one blessing despite the pain.
Since last year I have more growth and some progression. I had two chemoembolizations which helped keep the liver tumors stable. I think back to when I was first diagnosed three years ago and those wicked treatments where experimental. My bone mets are larger and several more have appeared. However, no other organs are invaded yet. So yes things are different but yes I am here. I have strong faith that the treatment on January 23rd in Basel, Switzerland will take care of those or at least keep it stable like the last two times.
below is last years New Year's Post.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Before I started to post I went back to the post that I wrote this time in 2009. Reading it reminded me how far I have come with this cancer in just one year. As I am going through this journey on a day to day basis it seems so consuming. With each appointment, treatment, surgery, new researching, scan and then the news it is hard to look at the big picture. That is why I am so glad that I started this blog. I am able to go back and reflect on the changes that have really happened. Last year at this time I did not know about the new experimental treatment that I am attempted at the end of January. The surgery seemed like a hopeless attempt to keep my leg. And truthfully I was not sure I would be here writing today.
That is why I must say that once again I feel so blessed. Over and over again I am told by those who love me, my friends and doctors that my unusual strength and fight is what is keeping me alive. I have had comments made to me that, "I keep getting back up every time I'm knocked down", or "I wont go down without a fight" and on and on. Just yesterday Logan and Nolan had a conversation with me about how tough I am. At my last appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Friedland, he came into the room as I was reading a Joyce Meyers book titled, "Never Give Up" and he took the book from my hands. He looked at it and said, "you don't need this, you'll never quit". I have to admit, I am quite humbled by all those comments and I want to start 2011 off by letting everyone know that I am NOT special. My choice to fight it not unusual and it is not something that I do on my own. I don't have some super strength or power. In fact there are so many other people fighting cancer that are tougher then I will ever be. But first and foremost what I do have that unfortunately others have not found is the Lord with me during every battle with this cancer. Every time I am at my lowest point and I think I cannot do one more treatment, one more surgery or one more appointment I truly pull my strength through God and pray. He gives me the ability to pull something out of somewhere and gets me or US (my family) through it. He gives me the peace I need and the knowledge continue on the journey.
So 2011 for me is going to be about making a difference like so many have made a difference in my life. Its going to be about reaching out to those who battle what I am battling but don't know where to get their strength from. When I say, "battle what I am battling", I don't mean just cancer, I mean adversity. I want to somehow express that if you give yourself and your problems to Him then He will give you the strength to fight it. I don't think God will always wipe your problems away because you have faith in Him. In fact if I look back since my diagnosis my struggles have tripled since then. However, I think he gives you the peace and the tools to climb the mountain. He puts you in situations and gives you people to help you through your troubles. This year I am still keeping my last years goal of FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE but I am adding a new ending.....I am FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE WITH A PURPOSE.
Happy New Year,