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
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I know many of you are waiting for my updates from last post. I have to say things have been quite busy in my battle. I will update you quickly because this is just so much going on and this is not the reason for posting, even though I owe you all an update. Monday, July 2nd, I started a six day in a row radiation treatment. Unfortunately, it turned into a few more days because after new scans we realized that the cancer invasion in the spine increased quickly in just 2 weeks since the last set of scans when they set the time schedule. The main purpose of the radiation is to try to relieve some of the pain. I have not notice a tremendous amount of difference but Dr said with carcinoid cancer it may take a few weeks. So I'm trying to keep my hopes up that the pain goes away. I know that pain relief will give me the strength I need to keep fighting.
I also was trying hard to gain some weight and strength so I can start a new chemotherapy treatment that both doctors, Dr. Freidland at Hillman and Dr. Liu at Vanderbilt, agree I need. They wanted me to at least get above 100 lbs. for fear that I may loose more weight while on the strong chemo and lose more strength to fight the cancer. This chemo plain is prestty strong and can take over the body if you are not able to withstand it. However the radiation got me so sick it was very difficult to put that weight on. So when I went to see Dr Freidland on Friday my weight stayed the same. I was thrilled I didn't lose any but a little frustrated that I did not gain because I have been really working hard at it. After consulting with each other both doctors decided I could not wait any longer and needed to start the chemo ASAP anyways. Last Monday morning I started the 14 days on and 14 days off treatment. With an added drug on day 10. Side effects are strong and the first two days I was a little freaked that I may not be strong enough to handle them. So I've been really trying hard to let God take the control of this and let me know when I need to give in. Of course usual symptoms with vomiting and fatigue are the worse. But I also have a lot of swelling in my legs and feet. Dr. Freidland said if the side effects got so bad and I started losing my strength I could stop. The other day, while feeling very sick and discourage, I mentioned what Dr. Friesland said to Mark. In a firm voice which I don't get much of that from him because usually I'm the one that says, "I can do it", he looked hard at me and said, "not an option". I have to admit I'm still a little anger at him for notb respecting when I know my limits. As much as those who love us, especially my Mark, think that they know what we physically go through because they are right next to us - they don't. They know more then anyone else, but they can't imagine what it is like. Also, my Dr said I need to complain more andsb thev one time I do I get to be made like I am a quitter. If I'm hurting or sick I often try to get through it myself. Until it gets unmanageable I normally don't say anything. I usually wait until I really need him. So he thinks I can take more then I can I guess....because I do. I haven't mentioned it since, but I do have a call into doc to see what I need to look for in case my body is breaking down or if I'm just not mentally strong enough to get through this treatment this time.
As I said it'll be a quick update on me physically. I wanted to really post this blog because Mark and I are celebrating our 17th anniversary today. Seventeen years and we've been through more then couple married twice as long. Not just with my cancer but in many things life has thrown our way. Sometimes its not pretty how we get through them but with God's grace we can move mountains and I think in the seventeen years we have. When I look back on that day I never thought in my wildest dreams we would going through this cancer journey. I had my life planned out, like a fool, not realizing that God is the only one that has my life planned. In any case I think our cancer journey has actually strengthen our marriage. We have become vulnerable to each other. I know he has seen me at my possible worse. I think I have seen him hit rock bottom too. I know that this day 17 yrs ago I loved him but it's not the same kind of love we have now. Nowhere near as deep or strong. It's a comfortable love that can't be busted. I wonder if we didn't go through the last few years if it would be this kind of love? I almost hate to even admit this, but I also wonder if the situation was reversed and he was fighting this battle if I'd be as loyal as he? I would hope I would but its got to be so hard to have your whole life and dreams change when the one you love is so sick.
We have both changed so much since that day too. But when Mark looks at me he still thinks I'm beautiful and he looks at me the same as he did back then. I still laugh at his jokes and funny antics but I see a serious side now. I see a man that is scared to lose his wife. I see a man that would switch places with me when I screaming in pain. However as strong as he thinks he may be I don't want him to go through it. Mostly I see a man that's not going to let me quit because he could not imagine me not here. We don't always agree with each other and often have some brawls, but we have an understanding of love. When I think of the vows we took that day I realized we went through them all. For better or worse, been there...for richer and poorer, especially my treatment cost....in sickness and in health, we all know that. I bet those that are reading this that have been married longer are thinking I have no clue what's to come. All I can say to that is, "I hope I'm here to see".
With love, Sunny.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
On June 11th Mark, my brother Michael, my sister-in-law Vicki, and myself went to Vanderbilt Cancer Center in Nashville to visit with Dr. Eric Liu, a neuroendrocrine carcinoid specialist. He recently opened up a carcinoid center department and is consulting on many cases. I love my oncologist, Dr Freidland, because he is always open to specialists opinion. After some tests and meeting with Dr. Liu's assistant, Cynthia, and then Dr Liu we set out a game plan. Dr. Liu was wonderful and understands I've been through a ton of treatments and surgeries with my battle. In fact he was surprised when he saw me after my last few years that I was actually in great spirits. Whatever he meant by that? He feels my body is weak right now and the treatments need a break. So before we can do any new treatments, which Dr. Liu has some planned, I need to put weight on mainly and get my nutrient and strength up. I have to say this sounds so easy but it's so frustrating. I have lost some of my appetite but I'm eating. I am by nature a smaller person anyways so losing as much weight as I have is quite noticeable on my body. I'm forcing the food down and nothing. However I have not lost any weight in two weeks so that's a positive. This is just something that I have to think about all day everyday. Both of my doctors agree that my weight lost is caused by the activity of the cancer. It was explained to me that my body is fighting so hard that it's like running a half marathon everyday. Being an old runner they thought I might relate. So the calories are just burning so quickly. So I'm on two weight gain drugs and eating as much as I can.
We also decided together to immediately start radiation on my bone mets in my spine and hips. So after two days of being scanned and tattooed I started on Monday. The actual treatment is not too painful but unfortunately for me the laying on the hard table for 40 minutes while they line me up and zap those monsters out of there is horrible. After seeing the new scans when preparing for the radiation we were very surprised at how much the cancer was invading the spine and hips. So original two zaps for 5 straight days turned into eight zaps for undetermined amount. When we first talked radiation I was not thrilled, esp being told that this will only help the pain and not take the cancer away. Many time that may not happen with carcinoid because it so unpredictable. However, I would love to get a little relief from the pain so we can all get back to a normal summer. We made a return appointment to Vanderbilt for July 16th where we will reevaluate and make some important decisions. Hopefully, I will have put enough weight on to start a new chemo treatment. I am thinking that I should not be waiting much longer. So praying that we, the doctors and I, are all on the same page by then and I can start kicking some cancer butt. Ultimately the decision to start the stronger chemo is my choice. I know my body the best and I don't want the cancer to win because I'm waiting to start the fight. It kinda reminds me of training for a race. Sometimes you train so hard. You become strong and finish with no problem. Then sometimes your body goes through setbacks or injuries and you know you could be a little stronger but you run the race anyways. It'll be rough and your time may be poor but you run and finish. That may be my choice in a few weeks. Whatever I decide I know that God is running next to me so I will be OK.
Like I said I started this post awhile back and glad I'm finally done filling everyone in. I love writing about my experiences, good stories and happy endings. The topic today is so daunting for me to write about so I apologize for it taking too long. I also want to ask for everyone to pray for the family of a friend of mine, Mickey Eckert. She suddenly passed away on Monday. Mickey leaves behind her husband, three children and a new grand baby. After one of her daughters fought cancer as a child Mickey became a huge advocate for Cancer research and Make a Wish. She was also volunteered with several charities. She had a very strong relationship with the Lord so I know she is resting in complete peace. As kind as she was is as loved as she is so I ask for prays of strength for everyone that loves her.
Happy 4th. Enjoy you family because you never know when your called home.