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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day of tears

Saturday was a full day of emotions for me. In the morning I attended my old childhood  friend's father, Tim Brown. My friend Jodi and I have been friends since 1st. grade. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. Her family has been wonderful support during my battle. In fact in lui of flowers they asked for donations to go to my fund. Mr. Brown has been fighting throat cancer with dignity. He is a welled loved man in the immunity were we grew up. Even at one time owning a local bar. So as you can imagine the funeral had a huge turnout. He was a ver humble man, because of that he was liked by many. Actually Jodi is the same way. She is just that person that is so easy to be around because she fun and simple. Probably why we were friends growing up because I liked attention and she was happy to let me have it. We lost touch a little over the years but I know she's a phone call away. After a battle with throat cancer at 65 Mr. Brown passed. Jodi, her sister and her mom told me that the last book he read was mine and it gave him the will to keep fighting. I Felt really good when she said that the only thing he would read was sports related.

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. 

With Love,