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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Time

Today was the last day of school for my boys.  I am now officially a mother of two high school boys and one middle schooler.  This is another milestone that I reached with my boys and I can breath a little more.  I am not rushing them growing up but I am hoping that I don't miss out on any opportunity to help them grow to be men.   I made it through another school year.  Yes I said "I"..... the boys of course would make it. Its just been a very difficult cancer year.  I just think back to the first day of school and how sad I was that my summer was over with them. I think is almost impossible going through this battle not to think every once and a while that this may be my last of something.  My last summer, last Christmas or last Last day of school.  This morning I felt so happy that I was able to see them walk out the door one more time in one grade and come home in the next grade.

Austen my high schooler is the first one out the door.  Quite early too at 6:50.  This morning when he came down stairs for breakfast which for him usually consist of a glass of OJ and a quick cereal bar or a cookie whatever is closer, he had a smile for ear to ear.  He has always had the biggest and brightest smile.  I high fived him and greeted him with some stupid thing like, you will leave a freshman and come home a sophomore.  He laughed and I reached out and gave him my careful hug.  He is so much bigger then me now so our hugs consist of me wrapping my arms around his waist and he putting his chin on the top of my head.  I told him how happy I was to be here and he shook his head yes and quitely said, "not as happy as I am mom".  Almost quite enough that he did want me to hear it but he did want me to hear it.   He started to walk to the door and I followed him.  I jokingly told him I was going to watch him walk across the street like I use to when he was in first grade.  As he walked to my neighbors to get his friend I kept yelling bye and he kept waving. Just like when he was little.  Just so he knew I was watching him and he was not alone.   I know I was annoying but I just wanted to remember today.  Finally he got to the end of the yard and I remember I forgot to tell him the thing I tell my boys everyday.  I then yelled, "Make good choices and do your best and.....".  He finished it with "and then do one more". I then closed the door to get the others two ready.
The other two were not so eventful.  They were a bit crabby and did not enjoy my happy mood.  But it did not change my spirit.  I can not even began to explain how thrilled I am to be here.  Every milestone my children have I think about the time the doctor told me six months.  I have to say today seems like an even bigger event because theis year was a very rough year for me physically.  Its obvious by looking at me that my cancer is progressing. I am way under 100 lbs.  and no matter how much I eat I cannot put any weight on. Doc says that my body is fighting so hard it burns so much its like running a half marathon a day.   I am in constant pain and so tired all the time.  My last set of scans where not as promising as we wanted.  The cancer is growing quickly and invading more and more.  We had several chemo emobolizations, some experimental chemos and the PRRT treatment in Switzerland. Not to mention several unexpected trips to the hospital.  Its been a rough school year for me but the boys have gotten through it.  The boys have done great through all the challenges we have had with my cancer.  For that I am so happy.  Days like today make all the suffering and pain worth it.  I am here.  I got to kiss and hug each one of the boys today as the closed the door on one year and open the door to another.  Especially for Logan who will be starting High School in August. 

This summer I am determined, despite what the scans and doctors say, to make the best of my time with each one of the boys, Mark, my family and my friends. I am really going to try hard to fight through the pain and fatigue so that I don't have any regrets when they go back to school in Sept.  My doctor recently said that we need to focus on getting through the summer.  He wants me to concentrate on quality of life now.  Well in some ways that is what I am going to do with hopes that will help me with quantity too. I am not however quitting the treatmens yet.  Hospice is not ready for me yet.   Mark and I are realizing that things don't look as promising as they did when the boys left for their first day of school in Sept of this past school year.  But we believe in miracles because the past four years we have seen so many.  Those true miracles are what has enable me to say goodbye to them today and see them come home tonight.

It is unfortunate that because of the progression of this cancer I cannot do the things I use to be able to do, but its fortunate that I am here to do the things I can.  Looking back at that day I was told  the cancer is back I NEVER thought I would see any of the boys go to High School.  I know I was pretending to be tough and that I was going to bet all odds.  I got angry at the doctors for writing me off but I now can admit that deep down I thought I would be gone by now.  I have tried everything there is and every new treatment that pops up.  At times they work temporarily and then the beast starts taking over again.  In fact I am planning on starting a new chemo cocktail next week after I get back for Vanderbilt see Dr. Liu, a carcinoid specialist.  I believe that God has put those treatments in front of me to keep me here.  I feel so blessed He has taken care of me through this whole journey.  Writing this reminds me of a quote I read recently that is so appropriate for the last day of school. It as follows:

"When you are going through difficulty and wonder where GOD is remember the teacher is always  quiet during the test."

There has been many tears this year but many smiles too.  The tears and fears are so real when you or your loved one is fighting a terminal illness.  But the smiles are more then most too.  Little things like the last day of school, being able to attend your sons basketball game, watching your son rock the choirs concert or being able to sit in the car and park close enough in the cold to see your other son's soccer game brings smiles that at one time I may have taken for granted.  Every year, even before I was diagnosed, the last day of school was exciting for me because I loved spending the summers with my crazy wild blue eyes boys.  But since my relapse and my terminal prognosis making it to see the finish of one more school year is amazing.  I am so glad I learned to stop and smell the roses.  I would say each year the smell is sweeter and sweeter. 


Can I Carry You?
I guess that I can hold you
one more time before you grow.
And tell you that I love you
so that you will always know.
Please let me tie your shoe again.
One day you'll tie your own.
And when you think back to this time
I hope it's love I've shown.
Can I help you put your coat on?
Can I please cut up your meat?
Can I pull you in the wagon?
Can I pick you out a treat?
One day you might just care for me,
so let me care for you.
I want to be a part
of every little thing you do.
Tonight could I please wash your hair?
Can I put toys in the bath?
Can I help you count your small ten toes
before I teach you math?
Before you join a baseball team
can I pitch you one more ball?
And one more time can I stand near
to make sure you don't fall?
Let's take another space-ship ride
Up to the Planet Zoor.
Before our Cardboard Rocket
doesn't fit us anymore.
Please let me help you up the hill.
while you're still too small to climb.
And let me read you stories
while you're young and have the time.
I know the day will come
when you will do these things alone.
Will you recall the shoulder rides
and all the balls we've thrown?
I want you to grow stronger
than your Dad could ever be.
And when you find success
there will be no soul more proud than me.
So will you let me carry you?
One day you'll walk alone.
I cannot bear to miss one day
from now until you've grown.
Loving Summer already,