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
Friday, August 31, 2012
Monday morning , their first day she struggled , it was painful, I was actually in charge of breakfast(a three course meal of Fruit Bars, Cold Cereal, and slightly burnt toast...with a shot of Mountain Dew) but she fought through the pain to get the annual pictures. Not at the bus stop this time...but who cares. By Tuesday she was back in charge of breakfast, reviewing homework, and helping to make sure clothes matched and were the right kids gear. The same for Wednesday. Thursday added a new wrinkle. She made three brown bag lunches, each one customized for each boy. Apparently as some of you may heard or seen on the news, Michele O'Bama's new First Lady Frankfurter lunches are not quite the big hit in Plum, and for the first time in 10 years (besides field trips) she did three MTO(thats made to order in SHeetzSpeak) lunches. Wow. She reviewed homework. She struggled the whole time. Didn't complain ,but the pain sometimes visible in her usually sparkling beautiful green eyes.
Which brings us back to today. 8/31/2012. Sunny's big day. She got up , made the toast for each kid just the right shade, each of my boys shared gentle big hugs with her and then gave them her daily sendoff words..."make good choices today". She went back to rest. The pain is there. Tumors, swelling, shingles, I don't think Elvis had enough pills to ease her pain. Its hard for her to figure out what is causing what to hurt sometimes but that doesn't slow her desire to be a daily part of the "normal" Carney family house.
Which brings me back to the title of today's blog. And the purpose of today's blog. I went and reread one of our favorite scriptures from Roman's 5. But from a different translation. Paul's words are ones that we have chosen to try to live by...."We are joyful when we suffer. We know that pain produces courage. Our courage produces character. Character produces hope. And hope NEVER disappoints us. God has filled our hearts with HIS love."(vs2-5) I highlight NEVER and HIS because I think these are the two absolutes that keep us going, and I know keep Sunny able to fight. God will NEVER let us down. Now, he will do things in his own way and on his own schedule but he will NEVER disappoint. For those that have the faith, the faith that Jesus died for us and freed us from our sins, we can have the hope of what that means. Eternal life with him in heaven. HIS love, like him is an absolute, its perfect. We are commanded to Love one another like HE loves us. Even in all the daily crap that cancer hurls at Sunny, she is going to do the best on that day to Love like HE loves. Its quite frankly why ,no offense meant, but you can take Andrew McCuthceon, Sid Crosby, Big Ben, or any other type of supposed "hero"...I will keep my hero...You don't how cool it is to be able to say "I married my hero".
Happy birthday sweetheart. You are the embodiment of love, and that gives me the hope that each day will be special, while constantly having faith that this too shall pass.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
As you can guess I'm climbing another mountain. I have to say this is a tough one too. Since Wednesday I have had horrific pain across my chest, across my upper back and down the left side of my body. I'm always in bad pain, but the last few days has been beyond what I have ever had. Plus I had my normal leg and spine pain to add to it. I saw my oncologist on Wednesday, he checked me out and thought it could be the cancer spreading possibly to some lymph nodes. With the swelling of my legs and feet it makes perfect sense. He upped my pain meds and told me to keep taking the chemo. Well the next days the pain got worse and worse. I could not even take a breath. Then Sunday at 1:30 A.M. my skin started to burn. I look at where the burning is coming from and saw the most nastiest rash and bubbling blisters ever. I was half asleep so wasn't sure what I was looking at so of course I wake Mark up screaming. He calms me down and I decide to wait a few hours until the boys are able to get up to and we call my doctor. By 6:30 Sunday morning we were on way to the ER.
One look at the rash and seeing my pain the doctor knew it was Shingles. Apparently the chemo and radiation, which has totally taken over my blood counts, and some stress Mark and I are under right now caused this to outbreak. The ER doctor was wonderful and he gave me some IV pain meds which I think did nothing. He tells me that he wants to admit me for IV antibiotics and a rest from stress. After much begging I convinced him I'm better at home with oral antibiotics and a nurse checking on me. Monday is the first day of school for the boys and I have never missed that day and don't plan to until I'm no longer here. I did promise I would come straight over if I can't handle anything.
I don't know what size of mountain I'm in for climbing but from what the ER doc said for cancer patients this is a long painful hike and the chance of further complications are high, he gave me some % but i choose not to remember. Mark got that info. I'm asking you all for prayers please. I can't do this climb without prayers. Sometimes I'm just too overwhelmed in pain and sickness that it's to hard to even talk to God. So I'm reaching out to you all for a hand up the mountain. I know God is always with me through my battle but He said we need to ask.
I do not fear this however I would love to skip this hike and just take a nice walk on a beach with the sun rising. But that's not in God's plans. I'm hoping that I will make it soon to my beach but for now I'm to be mountain climbing.
"Never measure the height of mountain until you reached the top. Then you will see how low it really was".
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
When I got to the funeral home on Friday I didn't think I would cry as hard as I did. I knew that he was suffering at the end and I know he lived a blessed life. So I'm positive he was in heaven, pain free and looking down and shaking his head on all the fuss. But the photos of his life all around the room and a running video just hit me hard. Seeing Jodi and Erin his daughters and Bonnie his wife smiling through their tears made me so angry at cancer. I knew exactly what the last months were like for them. We all need to die one day but why the suffering? Then Saturday at the funeral I looked around the catholic church and there was not an empty seat. Many sniffling and many wiping tears. Even knowing where he is going I still cried for his family missing him.
Later that day I shed tears of love. We went to a beautiful picnic wedding of a young couple. I never cry at weddings. I'm a photographer and photographed tons of weddings. But I guess I was searching some happy moments. As the minister talked about marriage he mentioned bad times like sickness and poorer. I could not help but think how seventeen years ago Mark and I had no idea what that meant. Of course we loved each other, just like the beautiful couple on Saturday, had no idea what in sickness and in health or richer or poorer entailed. This couple said those vows with such conviction, just like Mark and I did our day, and I believe they will be there for each other too. The love was so there you could feel it. Love like that gets you through times that you could never imagine. Just like the love Mr and Mrs Brown had during his battle.
As the minister spoke about commitment I looked over at Mark with my three boys in between and I think how blessed I am. I have commitment from four men. It's not a spoken commitment, it's a shown commitment. It's the commitment of Mark sitting with me at doctor's appointments and flying across the world for me. It's the boys never having to be asked to open the car door for me and helping in and out of the car. It's a commitment of helping me and never feeling embarrassed. I don't think it's a taught thing I think it's just LOVE. That love started the day we said "I Do" . That love is given to God. I could not get through everyday without the four of them showing me their commitment to my battle. I don't shelter them from my cancer. Actually it's impossible to shelter them now. I just feel that lying is only going to make them wonder. I believe that's why the understand.
So of course the tears at the wedding were tears of joy for the couple. But also tears of happiness for my blessings. Life is constantly testing us. We are given obstacles after obstacles that we need to overcome. Without love and commitment from your family it's very hard to get through it. Mostly however without faith in the Lord you defiantly can't get through it.
To end I am asking for extra prayers tomorrow. My blood counts have been dropping with the recent radiation and chemo. Because of that I am having extreme fatigue, chest pains, trouble breathing and swollen legs and feet. So tomorrow I will be having a transfusion. Please pray everything goes well and I start to feel better.