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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

His Will

"The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you"

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 Universit√§tsspital 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.