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

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Phase one of the Journey

We have arrived and I must say the trip was not so bad.  We had three flights and none where full which made for a very roomy way.  Our first flight was Pittsburgh to Newark, we were on a small commuter plane which are always difficult for me to fly in.  Having one lung causes breathing pain when flying and for some reason smaller planes seem worse.  But it was quick and I did use the pain meds which took the edge off. At Newark we flew to Dusseldrof, Germany.  I kept joking with Mark that maybe we should stay there and see if some Harry Potter wizards or even muggles had any potions that would help me.  Of course I had to have my run in or two with a few pushy Euros.  I have to ask why do they think pushing through customs is going to make them get on their plane any faster?  Each one of them had there bags searched and of course I walked by and gave them an American, "ha ha" with unsearched bags in hand.  I want to stay nice but I have my own ideas on why their bags get searched. I don't understand why they are so rude and feel the need to "space invade"?  Honestly they are right on top of me and Mark as we tried to take off our shoes and open our bags.  "Back off and give me room to breathe please" I had to yell at one.  Only to find he was one row ahead of me on the plane in Germany.  I whispered for the whole long flight hoping he did not recognize me and my temper. 

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.

Until later,