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, February 21, 2012
Saturday I have to say I was screaming in pain. I felt so bad for everyone in this home. I wonder how they deal with it so well. My goal was to get it under control so that I could watch my Logan play once soccer game. I have missed the last several and he made it quite clear that I needed to be here. I still don't know how I got through except that my Nolan helped me through the whole game. Getting me in and out of the car and up the bleacher where I sat on his puffy hoodie to be more comfortable. I have to say that telling you how much my boys help me sounds kinda sad for them. However, they are so amazing about the whole thing. I use to feel guilty about them having to be strong for their mom and then I have seen the great young men they have become and I am proud that they take my burdens at times. Logan played amazing as goalie and it really gave me such strength to keep fight this pain. Later that evening I venture out some more to a fundraiser for Austen's baseball team. That I have to say was probably the worst idea I had but I knew it was important for me to go because many or those running the fundraiser are those who have helped me over the years. Sunday morning I really paid for it when I struggle to get to church. Although, I look at it as I could stay home and be in pain or I could go out and try to accomplish something. Sitting at home was driving me crazy.
Sunday was just a day of complete torture. I honestly don't know how I and Mark got through. Except I have to say we did a lot of praying. Today it seemed to be getting better. Mark and I were talking today about the pain and what I was going through when he said he was really scared this weekend. Our conversation started turning towards keeping the faith. The faith that the pain will get better and that our prayers will be heard. We talked about the famous "Why?" this happens to me. Why do I have to go through this? Why it is important to know that there is a reason? Mark said to me, and I hope I got it right, "I think faith is like believing in advance what you will only understand and see in reverse". YES, YES that is what I have always wanted to say but never had the right way to say.
Saturday morning in the mist of all my complaining a friend of mine came over to visit. She comes over a few times a week to pray with me. It's been a real blessing to have her take her time to be with me and help me keep the faith. Anyways, I just lost it and sobbed. I was so tired and had not slept for more then an hour and half at the time. Not to mention the exhaustion my whole family was feeling because of this cancer. I have not broke down like that in over a year. I really don't feel sorry for myself I just keep plugging away. However, like I said early extreme pain can put you in a whole different place. I had lost my focus and mostly my patience.
That cry actually refreshed me to go on and not lose that faith. I do believe that I am going through this for a reason. I am not sure what that reason is and I wish I would hear the words cure real soon, but I really hold on to the hope that I will be healed one day. The doctors may say I am not living in reality but God is the only reality I need. I know this who post is going to make others uncomfortable when they read it. If it's hearing about my pain, my faith or just about hearing I am terminal, according to the doctors. This what my blog is though. It is for me to help others see that the worse is never the worse.
We have troubles all around us, that cannot defeat us. Sometimes we don't know what to do, but that doesn't me we give up and stop living. That is why I forced myself to participate in life this weekend. We are hurting sometimes, but that cannot destroy us. Giving up is not an option. We are not in our battles alone. Your physical body may be coming weaker or sicker, but it's up to you to keep you spirits new and strong. We may have small troubles that seem like huge hurdles now, but one day we will look back and see they were just bumps in the journey. Those bumps were there for a reason. It may be to teach us a lesson, make us stronger or to just slow us down and see what's important. What I have learned is the important thing is to set our eyes on not what we can see but what we cannot see. That is true faith. That true faith then gives us hope. The hope keeps us going and gives us perseverance.
I am going to keep up the fight every day. I pray that my faith does not shake. I need patience for God to show me what he has planned. And I need to keep my eye on what I can't see. Please be with me in pray.
P.S. I wanted to let everyone know that on March 3rd we are have a Zumbathon for carcinoid cancer. Our goal is to raise awareness of this cancer. It is still the #1 missed diagnosed cancer. Early diagnosis is important. So I will be talking about how to detect. See above for more information.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Valentines Day for me has never been a day for just Mark and I. Since I became a mother of three boys I have always made February 14th be a way I show my love to all of my boys. Mark and I have our anniversary which is our special day and Valentines Day has always been about all four men in my life. When the boys were little I would do fun games or crafts and always splurge on a box of heart shaped candy. Now that they are teenagers and have a life beyond this home I try to make it a quick hour of maybe a nice dinner or fun desert. You can always win their attention with food. Today I was in not condition to cook so we had a nice dinner dropped off by a friend and another friend surprised me with a balloon and some strawberry cheesecake. So I took the credit for those and served them with a smile. Well, they kinda served themselves while I struggle with some pain but I did direct them. I still splurge on the heart shape chocolates and a heartfelt card with my own words written inside. Also, I got them each a little special gift. Whatever it is I don't spend a ton of money or buy them something they always wanted. I try to make it from the heart and something that shows I was thinking about them.
Today Mark and I spent most of the afternoon at treatments. Which doesn't sound real romantic but I can tell you it is our time were we are forced to talk. We usually mingle with our regular cancer posses and our nurses which are like our family. Believe it or not we laugh about things and try to make the best of the situation. So it can be quite special if we let it be. After treatment today we stopped at our favorite sushi spot, yes sounds strange but sushi is what I carve after treatment, and we enjoyed each others company. Unfortunately the treatment hit me quickly while we were sitting there and I rushed Mark through lunch. He completely knew that I was pushing it and was actually waiting for me by the door when I told him I needed to head home. After resting for a half hour we then had a date at a seventh grade basketball game were we had great seats to see one of my valentines play. The only thing that would of made the night better is if my other two boys had games too.
I feel so lucky that I have so much love on Valentines Day. But I have to admit I know I have that love everyday. I use this day to show them that I know I am blessed with their unconditional love. Despite my battle, I have to pinch myself every now and then to make sure that these four men are real. I am told by others that I made my boys the great kids they are but I have to say God has truly molded them. I just did the easy part and loved them. I know that to those looking in on my life it may seem quite scary and uncertain. Fighting an incurable cancer and not knowing what my future holds is scary. Wondering if this is my last Valentines with them or last basketball game I will see is always in the back of my mind. Although its in the way back hidden somewhere I don't like to visit. I have learned not to look at things that way. It is out of my control and will only take me away from the moment. I am so happy that I have what I have now. Sure I am suffering but I have so much love and support. It may not have a ton of money, material things or even a secure future but I have true love. Not that warm fuzzy kissy kind of love. Its a unspoken but showed love. Its the love that keeps me fighting. I believe that the love I have for my boys and the love they have for me gives me the courage to go on. If this is my last Valentines Day I know that I felt the fullest love on that day.
It is great to love someone. Though to be loved back the way you truly love them is everything. It is not always about you and your partner on Valentines Day. To me it is about all those that you love and all those that love you. I am blessed that I have the men in my life to love me for me and look at me even when I am at my physical worse like I am the best. They don't see my pain, my thin body or my pale face. They look past all that and see in my eyes the mom and wife that I am. What really makes it special is they don't even know that they show me this love everyday. They don't know that the little things they do or the words they say to me are what keeps me going on with my battle. They think I am strong and tough when really its them that keep me going.
So remember February 14th is a day to show your love for your special Valentines. Everyday is when you see they way they love you.
Happy Love Day,
Sunday, February 12, 2012
On the other note the pain in the bones is horrible. I just cannot seem to get it under control. It moves all over from tumor to tumor. Its either a nagging ache or intense sharp pains that are out of control. Dr. Mars in Switzerland told me it bone tumors are the hardest to treat. The can become quite painful before they get better. So I am waiting for it to get to the better part. That brings me up to the turmoil in my mind. When you have consistent pain it is sometimes hard to keep a smiling and believing. Lately I have been trying hard not to go to the dark side. I am so thankful that I have people in my life that keeps me positive. If its sending me a little gift with a beautiful note, spending time to pray with me, or making a meal they keep me hoping. Hoping that it'll one day get better. But at night when the pain is intense and everyone is sleeping I have to turn to pray. I know that God has placed people in my life to help me through this battle but at night it's just Him and I.
I have to say I don't feel alone when I turn to Him. I may open up my Bible, pray or just chat with Him. But it diffently gets me through the sleepless nights. I have seen miracles happen. I am beleiving that the miracle of healing is going to happen to me. I know that it is in His time.
I rescheduled my treatment for Monday and hoping I can get to it. Please keep me in your prays. I promise next post to be more upbeat.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
So this post is going to be short and sweet just to let you all know that I am trying my best to fight this beast. I am some pain today and haven't slept much. It seems so much worse at night. I am hoping that by the end of this week I will start to feel better. Last week I was able to hit all the boys games and do a few things with them. I am so glad I forced myself to do that because it's not looking good for the next few days. I know that one day soon all this pain and sickness from the treatment will be all worth it.
Please continue to pray for us. Also, Austen after nine months of recovering from ACL surgery sprained his other knee in a basketball game last week. He is devastated and afraid he may miss more sports. I know in the big picture of life it seems like nothing but to a 15 yr old boy who lives for sports and uses his sports as an escape from my battle its a huge deal. Please pray that when we see the doctor next week its not as bad as we think. Please keep us all in your prays.
Until next time,