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, March 15, 2012

Greatness out of Tradgey

It was a sad day in Pittsburgh on Thursday March 8th.  A gunman went into our local psychiatric hospital and shot 11 people killing one.  The victim Micheal Schaab was a 25 year old therapist who wanted to dedicate his life to helping others.  He had just got engaged to be married this Valentines Day.  He was coming back from his lunch break and in his pocket was a money order written to his college where he just register for his PHD.  To make the situation even more heartbreaking for the victims family, his sister was murder 18 months earlier in a domestic situation.  Yesterday the news stations cover Mr. Schaabs funeral.  They interviewed many friends and family members that had so many touching things to say about Micheal: he was so kind and giving, wanted to help the elderly with mental illness, loved his family especially his parents, would light up the room when he walked into it.  One of his co-workers said that she would look on the schedule and if Michael was working she knew it would be a great day.  However the interview that sticks in my head the most was the interview with his own father.  From his words and calmness you could just tell this man had tremendous faith.  What touched me the most was how he talked about the out pour of kindness that his family was receiving. The "private" funeral was attending by well over 500 people.  He said the donations, food, letters, flowers and prayers have helped him and his wife get through the lost of their last child.  Then holding back his tears he said something that I can not get out of my head, he said Michael's death has shown his wife and himself that the world has so many good people in it. 

I am talking about this tragedy for one reason only.  To show that evilness can bring out greatness in people.  Of course, I am not saying that this poor boy should of ever died for kindness to be seen.  I think kindness and greatness is everywhere it's just takes someone hitting rock bottom to really notice it.  My point is that one mans wickedness can be over taken by hundreds and hundreds of those who are wonderful.  When I hear that the world is full of immorality and sin I don't see it like that.  I feel that we are giving one man way too much credit for his wrathful acts and lets face it that is what he wanted.  Michael's parents said that are going to set up a foundation in his name so that his death does not go down in vain.  Imagine how many people that foundation can save.  Very similar to the death that happened 2012 years ago.

I know I have said this so many times but my life has changed from my cancer. Yes, I have suffered much. In fact this last round of treatments was so tough I can't imagine going through it again, but I will if I need to.  My husband, boys, family and friends have suffered watching me fight and cried from this monster that is growing in me. My life is not where I thought it would be at age 41.  My business is slowing down, treatments have been so costly it has changed our life style, and we live not knowing what the future holds let alone tomorrow.  Will I be in pain tomorrow? Will I be able to take the kids where they need to go?  It all depends on what this cancer choices to do to my body that day.  Although, that all sounds down and depressing it is not what I mean when I say my life has changed from this cancer.  All the mentioned above is the obvious things that people may know or think cancer does to someone afflicted.  But there is so much more that unless you have gone through it you cannot possible feel it. 

My life is so full of caring people.  I am not saying that I am busy and have this great social life, in fact that part is gone now too. I am home and doctor appointments mostly.  I try hard to participate in other things but it's hard.  I save my energy for my kids events mostly.  I guess a better way to describe it is that my heart is full.  I see things so differently then before cancer or BC is how we say it here at home.  Little things like an appliance breaking down or car not starting is just that......a little thing.  In fact I have not had an oven for over a year.  When those things happen I shake my head and move on.  Catty drama that others thing is the end of the world is more entertainment for me.  And even large doctor bills get a I'll get to that attitude.  Things that use to be small like a I love you mom or a kiss goodbye before leaving for school are huge things now......HUGE.  That goodbye and I love you is a sincere one , not rush out the door and habit saying.  The boys sports games that I have struggled to get to are huge......HUGE.  I see my boys looking for me in the stands.  Then I see a peace look on their faces when they see I made it.  BC I never missed a game and they never noticed I was there or not.  Game night or sitting to watch a movie with the family is huge.....HUGE.  I know that our vacation this year will be ever bigger the huge.  We had to cancel two because of me being to sick to travel and needing the finances for Switzerland. 

Also, the out pour I have gotten through my journey is indescribable.  However the way I feel about this love is not.  I have said this so many times that you all may be tired of hearing it, but I have to say it, its like hundreds of hugs wrapped around me.  I use to question why are people so good to me, but now I just accept it.  I was talking to my pastor one day about how bad I felt about accepting dinners when I know that the people cooking for me are so busy.  My pastor said to me that when I turn down help that I could use I was denying others of the blessing of giving. That whole idea made it so much easier.  I never feel like I am fighting this cancer for myself.  I think if I felt that way I may not be here right now, because I know that where I am going is a glories place.  I feel like I am fighting for all those that have loved me and are cheering me on. 

This all gets back to my original point.  One evil man or one evil disease CANNOT take all the good out of the world and it possibly CAN  make the world a better place.  By no means am I comparing my battle to the lose that the Schaab family is feeling.  But I am comparing the kindness of the world.  The way others have reached out to the Schaab family is similar to the kindness I have experienced, which gives us some hope.  It helps them put their feet on the ground in the morning when they are getting out of bed.  Knowing that they have a backup for when they cannot go on helps them go on.  Trust me I know this.  Having a line of people that will tag in anytime you need them to help them and myself is what will get them through this long mountain they are going to climb for the second time in 18 months.  Right now I am going to pray for this family that they somehow get some kind of good out of this senseless act.  After hearing the father speak I somehow think he will be looking for the good. 

Many will disagree with this post today.  They will not understand how I can see the good out of murder or even a terminal cancer.  But that is okay with me.  I will say that yes its my faith but it is also what I have witness the past few years. I have seen people reach out to me to try to stop my heart from breaking. I have had many try hard to ease my pain and make my life easier.  I have people give up their own time to help me.  I have had family change their life to take care of my children.  I have had people rally together to get me to Switzerland for the treatments I need.  So it may be my faith but its also the actions of others that make my post today my belief.  

Please keep your prayers going for the Schaab family as they mourn the lost of both their son and their daughter.  I pray they somehow get blessed out of the tragedy.

 “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson