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
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Having said that....I miss you so frickin much....it's been four weeks tonight since we went in to corral that blood sugar....God I miss you...I still am having a hard time processing it....four weeks....how I wish I could have given you a liver or something....I am still expecting you to come back....I haven't changed much in the house....nothing of yours in fact....maybe I will soon....but the longer I can keep the same layout,the longer you seem to be here....I know it's goofy....but it's all been cleaned....I just can't get rid of anything of yours yet, because I keep thinking you ,may need it.....alright that was a bit of BS as you know....the truth is it hurts...I start to go through things and it stirs memories....part of the curse of a photographic memory is what the stupidest little things can conjure up....
I went through all of the purses a week or so go but tonight in the closet I found where I had buried your "hospital" bag....that ugly yet now irreplaceable flowered brown one...it still has the clothes that you are coming home in...how do I get rid of that? It's getting a call from Rite Aid saying your script is still on hold do you still need it because I haven't had the heart to stop in....it's not the big tear jerkers anymore....we know when Klove is on if we hear I Can Only Imagine or Blessings that if we don't change it we will bawl...we know the risk of playing U2...we get that every cancer commercial or email from one of your blog followers , although well intentioned is going to open a can of cry ass....but now it's the little things....it's how to write an excuse for school because Logan was sick...what goes on it...how do I hug him like you did...(by the way please get the heavenly prayer posse focused on him because I think he is really starting to withdraw) ...it's going for haircuts and not knowing if the kids are really satisfied like you did....(they were)....it's not knowing the right thing to say to your mother and Judy when they visit and hoping that I made them feel welcomed and not rushed out of the door....it's flipping through the channels and stopping at hallmark(312)only to see the movie begin with a widow pulling a stocking out to hang marked "dad" and crying before placing it back in the box....gently, neatly, as if someday she might need it again....it's about not knowing how to celebrate/decorate for Chirstmas....do we do as was...or will that hurt to much and be disrespectful somehow....its having condolence cards pile up because I don't know where to start....I wrote fiction..,now I write resumes...you did all of this stuff....
It's opening the glove compartment of your Dodge and seeing where you "discarded" your old drivers license....so frickin beautiful....5'4". Green eyes....big sunny smile....thick brown hair, God I could kiss you....instead I put it in the safe....it's seeing Nolan play well in the first 8th grade scrimmage and knowing how proud you would have been...it's Austen playing well in his first varsity scrimmage....starting in fact....then telling me he stunk because he says I brag too much but deep down I know those things he opened up to you with...it's Logan....I don't know how to connect right now...I left the Pirates a message today...because he wants to do his b-day on the 15th at Fanfest and I want to see if I can arrange something special from the players or something...but you were the one that rubbed his head....not me....it's being told a millions times that time is all you need and that God called her home, have faith, be strong for the kids, get back to work, pay the bills, don't slack, we are praying for you, we miss her to, we are thinking about you guys, etc.etc.. Blah blah blah...
I don't want that. I want to tell you merry Christmas....I want to go to church on Christmas eve with you...I want to go to the jewelry store to pick up your gift on the 23rd like always, I want to see your smile when the kid opened their presents....no I am not being ungrateful or unfaithful....just human honey...that's the one thing you can't relate to right now....how I wish you could....I would carry you down the stairs if needed...I would microwave any heating pad or food whatever....I would run to Sheetz or Walgreens for whatever your flavor of the night was...so please listen..I am happy that you are in heaven....but I am not thrilled about the timing....I miss you....I love you....I still need you...for the little things....
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I miss you not being here telling me to stop claiming it is my birthday weekend so I could have my way....no one gets a weekend...grow up you would say....baby I wish you would tell me to grow up just more time...I miss birthday hugs....I miss birthday private time....just the two of us....I miss not having you next to me....as hard as Thanksgiving was I can only tell you the best birthday of my life will always be my 41st and last one here with you....I will forever treasure the big 40 down at Vero when you finally convinced me to get up with you , drive to the beach and see the sunrise....I swam and it was amazing....why the hell did I only do that once all of those years with you....regrets...turn back the clock...I wish you were here rubbing my head , watching you smile back at me...green eyes dancing like a leprechaun on speed....
I realized today I haven't watched a single reality show in three weeks....no Godzilla brides, no dancing moms, no survivor, no voice, no housewives, not even Ellen reruns....you DVD the dumbest shows I used to think.l.but if I could lay next to you and watch two fake blond fake boobed spoiled bitches have a scripted fight in a restaurant in new jersey I would make the popcorn...if I had to get up ten times tonight to help you get out of bed I would come with bells on(your saying not mine)....if I had to clean up after you made kool aid and didn't quite hit the pitcher on your new counter I would and I would do it singing...if the opportunity came to lay next to you and tell you over and over and over and over til the sun came up how much I love you I would shut the tv off, and ramble on. Sunny, truth is I am more than a bit lost without you. This year marked the completion of 21 years together and 21 years per-sunny and mark....I never thought it would end symmetrically...I never thought I wouldn't have the chance to smile one last time when you said wait, I need a picture before you blow those out...I never thought....
I guess everyone is trying to be helpful when they say time heals,,,,some say time doesn't heal and the holidays etc. still suck....I can't imagine it hurting more than right now but I can bet Christmas will hurt worse....I wish you were here right now, perking me up, and telling me happy birthday old man, what a great husband and father you are....I miss that...because I am not a husband to anyone now or ever again, and I am having a hard time thinking that the kids are benefitting from my fatherly advice....just being honest here babe....held it in for a little while but it's my birthday so I can say what I want....this sucks...I need you down here...the boys do...your family does....your friends do....we all do...I don't get it, I don't know why it happened and yes at times I am bitter....after all we went through, after all you went through, why didn't you have the chance to speak the words goodbye to your kids....why didn't you have the chance to finish their birthday and special occasion cards, why didn't you have the chance to hug and kiss me goodbye...why did my last kiss fall on cold lips, why was our last hug blocked by a tube....I am really struggling with not saying GD it, but I really really miss you right now...it's been three weeks and I don't feel any sense of closure...I don't feel the relief completely yet that "it's ok, she is in a better place, she has no pain"....bullshit...why weren't you completely healed miraculously down here and he used you that way...there I said it...it's been on my mind for awhile and I think we both thought that was going to happen deep down....why? Why?
It makes no sense. My birthday wish is to have one last dance with you, like we did at Amy's wedding in September, it wasnt fancy but it was so real...oh so real...screw the stars, I want dance with my sunny....we held each other so tight, so frickin in love tight that if cancer was contagious I know I would have caught it that night...we had not a care at that moment....time stopped...are eyes dissolved into each others heart like butter on a not skillet....melting away....nourishing....
Sunshine this birthday is going to suck..I will put my game face on and do my best...but it's all smoke and mirrors and maybe a little alcohol tomorrow....this one will hurt....I love you....
Thanks for all of the cakes....thanks for all of the great birthday memories.....I love you
Thursday, November 22, 2012
We had the whole family over today the way you wanted and it was a bit strange. The house bustled and the smelled like any other Thanksgiving but to be honest the more we all tried to keep things "normal" the harder at times it seemed. I found myself just keeping busy. Taking out trash...chasing the dog away from the turkey....playing ball with the neices...and Legos with nephew...then more garbage...then sneaking upstairs just to catch a moment....I don't think I had a chance to sit down and talk to the boys once....feels like the day slipped away and took forever at the same time. I know we have so much to be thankful for down here and I could go on and on and maybe some day I will just sit down and write the sequel to your unfinished life story....or I guess the story of all of us that you touched from my POV. But as I thought about being thankful and what matters most now....I came up with three important thank you's to share....
Austen, Logan, and Nolan. Our boys reflect their mother in every thing they do. The strength and determination they have exhibited through this process is a mirror of how you chose to fight. The way they have supported each other is an answer to your question do they get how important family is? They get it baby. The caring nature which you instilled in them has surfaced even as they heal themselves. The Messengers had to put their dog down a week ago and Nolan found out on the way home from Sheetz and stopped in to console Derek. How so like you. Austen shared with the principal and counselor when they had a discussion on returning to school that the biggest worry he had and the biggest thing they could help him with was helping his brother Logan. How unselfish like you. Logan was still selling your bracelets at school because I found $2 washed and crinkled in several jeans pockets. His strength at the soccer banquet to face that emotional night was all you. So I guess though there are probably thousands of thank you's I could share now....none would outrank those top three. Those were the big ones and you did an amazing job in giving of yourself despite the pain to teach them life lessons.
I only pray that I can continue the journey with them as they grow and be the same type of influence on them that you were. I love you Sunshine and today was hard. But it was also a poignant time to reflect on the real reasons we all should get up for daily. Thanks for imparting that knowledge to me.
Monday, November 19, 2012
I want to take time over the next couple of days to share with you some of the stories and emails I have received from those that I guess you can say wanted to "give thanks" for your presence in their life. I am going to do this for the next several nights and on Thanksgiving I wanted to tell you what I am thankful for in our wonderful 21 years together. You know I miss you...you know I listen to the U2 and can't help but get choked up because it was the last and only real concert we saw as a family....so I won't go into that....it's unspoken and I know you know...
I want to start off with a story about the impact you made on a certain 9 nine year old who played in the wiffleball tourney every year except one...but that's not what makes this worth sharing....a lot of people played over the past five years....this young man his mother shared with me everyday for the past two weeks has asked her at night what her one good thing for the day was. He spoke in front of his whole class and shared your story, your impact, and your message of finding that one good thing. I have heard similar feedback from others...from good family friends with young men in college...to strangers via email who simply followed your blog.
I want to tell you how someone came through the viewing line and stopped me to share with me how you hadnt seen her or her daughter in awhile, learned her daughter was ill, took it upon yourself to reach out to your advocate at Highmark, press them to help, help was given, and that she day she was in line because you had cared enough to get involved. I don't know when you found all of the time because I thought I knew all of these private interventions. I want to tell you how one of the first people to come through the line Monday night was Dr Friedland. I can only tell that his tears were real and so were is words that you had impacted him as much as he had tried to help you. It was very special watching him share with your mom just how much he admired your courage and spirit.
I want to tell you that I have received emails from across the country from other Carcinoid patients or their families, who followed your blog...some of whom you had made a connection with....some not...but each one offering words as to how you taught them how to fight...how to question...how to research...how to not give up....absolutely humbling and they are still coming in two weeks later...I want to tell you how many people have posted, or sent word that you have helped plant the "faith " seed in their lives...how they weren't overly religious but that watching you valiantly press on with no question as to the greater purpose and driving force behind this gift of life we are blessed with...how watching you not loose your faith left a desire to get what gave you such peace amidst this whole fight.
I want to tell you about an email I got just tonight from an old acquaintance from Plum who decided to take his kids to the zoo for the first time in years and had a great time...inspired because you wouldn't waste a day and family was the driver...I want to tell you how every single teacher our boys have ever had since Redeemer, Pivik, Oblock, and now Plum HS, came and shared how you raised your boys to be such find young men and how proud they were of them and how lucky they were to have gotten to know you. Every one.
I want you to know that your fear of not doing enough, or of not having enough time was unfounded. You touched many and I look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow. It truly was "A Wonderful Life"
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Sorry. We just watched the Steelers lose to the Ravens and although it added insult to injury in a way...I just don't care...it's funny how life at times revolved around Penquins playoff games, or Steelers games, or Pitt games...since you have gone, Pitt has blown the biggest saddest collapse this side of the Pirates and lost to ND, lost to Conn the next week...the Steelers won last week but lost Big En, lost tonight to the "Dirty Birdies" , there is no hockey, and I just don't give a shit...pardon my language, but I haven't put on one jersey or hat, I wear your stuff...you are my team...the rest of,it you were right...qits all nice...but it's just games....doesn't seem as critical to my sense of self-worth as it did a few months ago.
Are you really not coming back? Is this really it? Really? It is still difficult to process...I love you so much....the boys love you...I can tell that the more we all try to get back to normal,the less people I our lives do we can get back to normal....the harder it becomes to carry on. Working from home sucks now. The kids go to school and i have the dog and I. I am going to be alright, but my head is still spinning for so many reasons...some more important than others I know...but life is funny like that...when you are coping with a major change or trial in life, little stupid things pop up a d seem extra burdensome at just that moment.
Is it really going to be Thanksgiving without you. My birthday, Logan's birthday, Christmas, and then Nolan's birthday. This time of year was always so hectic, but so special...this next two months are going to be really trying....every week is going to bring an occasion to celebrate...without to share this it is going to be a downer to have to deal with these things. It isn't fair to the kids..forget about me...
I will check back in tomorrow and I will fill you in on the good shit that occurred this weekend. Please keep,an eye on us and deep down we rejoice even though these are tears of tragedy that we shed...
I love you so much...
Friday, November 16, 2012
Speaking of hugs as I lay here in this big ass king bed that you needed to ease bone pain...and as I look at your clothes piled in the basket on the floor by the door...as I see your scarfs hanging over mupy ties...as I see the room spray that we bought at Bed Bath Beyond together as a family just a week prior...caps still on...hell price sticker still stuck on this one....looking at all of this I guess I could really use a Sunny hug...a squeeze in your arms...I miss that a lot- just holding you tightly and exchanging love you's and kisses...it feels like forever since I got a hug...I know...ironic...because we have probably been hugged a couple thousand times each recently but none of them are your hugs...
I am not going to forget to squeeze and put thumbs up at three...I still can vividly picture that as your head lay tilted towards mine...damn..I promised myself we weren't doing this again...but is so real ...life is so much more HD than HD...please keep an eye on us...we are trying to be strong...funny thing about strength....the body grows muscles by exhausting tissue and when cells replace the dead ones more come...you literally push these cells to the point of complete failure...right to the brink...but then they heal and come back stronger....akin to our strength in life..the kind from above...we are constantly tested or "pushed to the brink...and if we realize we are taken there to grow stronger...so that the next time we do "reps"...the next time we are challenged to the edge...we will grow stronger yet....it works for both the spiritual and the physical body...
Thinking of you tonight as the stars shine brightly...tomorrow Jesse goes to Ireland to teach for a couple of weeks...put a word in for safe passage....a lot of great friends continue to love you...I feel it, see it, every day. Help us to be strong down here...to hug and to cherish what we still have left....but also we need the guidance from above because there is no,play book for this...every case is different and we will trust in him to get us through...
I love you....really hurting right now...I miss you and the boys well they are still in that fog....doing their best but with a new sense of priorities...
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Two weeks ago about this time we sort of had our last verbal conversation. You were starting to slip but I thought it was just the meds. In hindsight I would have kept that conversation going...even if we both just rambled out of sheer exhaustion...who cares...You know what I find myself doing , is calling your cell just to hear your sweet voice again say you are not available. God how I miss that voice. If you keep track of days up there you will note it is garbage day...I had to get rid of all of the open Clinique stuff and assorted open sprays, creams, lotions, etc...I am taking it slowly...your last purse should be out of here by 2019...haha. got you..I know you would kick my tush if that was the case....
Couple of curve balls thrown my way today...but I rolled with them and didn't let them ruin an otherwise good day...well you know what I mean...I rebounded after your pep talk yesterday and was determined to smile,laugh, and just be a positive impact on anyone I came across...started with the boys this morning and homemade breakfast...yeah just"daddy" eggs and bacon, cheese, and a bagel...but I didnt burn a bagel and all three cleaned their plates..one of these days I will attempt pancakes...Anyhoo, back to the positive impact thing...I am not going to become one of those "someone just died he's a mess lets avoid making eye contact with him" types...if I can smile and laugh who dares be miserable on our account?
Really do feel at times that this is still a twilight zone episode...Ace is going to Sadie Hawkins dance next week...I actually asked who "Sadie " was....what a dumbass...apparently he can wear shorts and Nikes? I guess I better check on that huh....by the way...his phone died(I know bad choice of words) and so we switched phones...he now has your old I Phone...don't worry no charge and AT&T was courteous and my hold time was a minute....I know you put a good word in on that one because that never happens...he had Roz come over tonight to do the Tiki-thing and I know it meant more to her in a way than to him...Jim and April dropped off Denali...good to have her back...probably a cruel time to remind you that at one point you said"me or that truck"....I would drive that truck into the river if it could bring you back....but it is a blessing to have Jim and Tim because you know how handy I am with cars....and how tough I am on them....
Logan crashed before nine tonight....I hope he is Ok....he has been extra withdrawn at times no matter how I approach him...I won't quit working on it...Nolan had to get new hoop shoes because the ones you ordered seemed to have never come....tryouts Saturday...watch over him and all hs teammates....I know...a little extra nudge from the big guy for him...I am stunned how much these shoes are....all in all it's been a nice quiet week after the week long wake it seemed every night....not quite ready to leave the comfort zone yet and I don't like the constant spotlight that seems to be on us...I know it's a good thing....but sometimes I wonder if everyone is watching and waiting for "Mark" to screw this all up...."boy does he need Sunny now"....not that I don't need you...not that I wouldn't give my liver to you in a second...we are in this fishbowl and I think some are rooting for us to swim, others expect us to flail. So many well wishers that the support is there. I just want to give back...give support to your friends and family....they hurt too and we are getting all of the love...I will give love back...
Well it's really late....thanks for listening as always...I love you....put a good word in for us here at 426 and for the rest of those hurting....and keep Phillip in mind again. He improved last night...got some needed rest...
Love, love, love
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Wow. Sorry to be such a downer. But it is so hard saying good morning once the kids go to school and it's me and Oscar...and you....everywhere in the house...I mean office...its you...go to work....I know....and you know I am doing my best....but it's so much harder to work from home when home is empty...I miss our lunches...I probably won't be able to go Jimmy Wans in awhile....I miss buying you flowers....I just got the special invite to the jewelers early sale this weekend...big discount...no need...no more pandora charms to buy...actually no one to buy for...I am doing the best I can...the kids miss you...Logan takes like four baths a night....but he won't cry in front of me...Nolan is nervous about everything as always and I don't have that soothing "what's wrong talk to me" voice down yet....Ace is 16...he is trying to be a man...I think to compensate....but damn it he should be still enjoying being a kid....sorry...I am crying I know....
Great to see you today at Plum Creek...thanks for helping me find a seat....haha..I know it was just grass and wet leaves and dirt....but it felt like the most peaceful place on earth...next time I will wear sweats and get real comfortable...I love you and I so want this to be a fairy tale and I am Rip Van Carney and when I wake you will be next to me....oh well...I know must move on...
I wonder what Christmas is like in heaven...I am sure it's glorious....you will enjoy it...just don't sing too loud...keep watching over all of us and put a special word in for Phillip so he can beat mono...the boys and I miss you and I hope that at some point we can just hug the four of us...and let loose a good slobber knocker...I feel as if there is a distance ...a void...because we are trying to cope individually instead of as a team of four...as a matter of fact I am going to make subtle changes to the routine so we laugh and grieve together more...it's what you talked about....family...
Tell Jesus hello and to keep his hands on all of us down here who keep trying to keep on...without faith I know this fog would be an abyss...can't imagine not having that as a rock to cling to on all of this....
I love you
I miss you
I thnk about you always....
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
As I was paying some of the bills today the lady from Highmark.....yes Highmark....I know how much you loved to sit on hold and then be transferred and then hold and then be transferred with them but this lady said she would pray for us, even though it was a recorded line she didn't care. I heard the same thing from the sweet people at the Plum water but this was a big "cold" corporate entity. Anyways it struck me how that is the most powerful four letter word in the world....no not that one....PRAY. How many times did we pray together for you , for us, for our boys, for family, for friends, for other carcinoid patients, for Chris and his family, for Kristen's family, for Stacy....well I can go on and on....you see...it is a small word....often dismissed....well I wish I could do more.....and then almost apologetically " but I will pray"....I think that the significance of that action is maybe the most misunderstood, underrated, and unappreciated verb in history. Not that donations and dinners and all aren't tremendous too, but that act of talking directly to God is pretty special. And we know he answered prayers. We used to pray for your complete healing , but we also prayed that Gods will be done....not that we had any influence on it regardless....but that his will be done.
Down here I can tell you that not an hour goes by where I dont feel a pang in my heart, a vast emptiness in my soul like a big chunk of my life has suddenly gone missing....but then I recall the prayers and I pray again....his will is done....and He was done with you down here....so the gift you got is your reward up there. I cant begin to tell you how many times in the past two weeks I have heard from people how you touched their life. I actually had someone come through the funeral one and explain how you made a few simple phone calls on behalf of their daughter and those phone calls led to the right diagnosis and now she was going to be OK. I saw the tears in her eyes....I felt the humbling sense of wow...this was the person I had the privilege of sharing my life with...you were and still are my closest friend, my biggest cheerleader, and yes my harshest critic....but just like I need that extra boost to pursue dreams I need that kick in the butt now and then as well.
It has been hard not knowing how often to hug or to try to talk the boys about all of this, but I have really tried to be an open book with them so they can see me laughing and hurting all at the same time....I want them to know your message to me was cry cry cry and then strap the boots back on and get livin....you know that is damn hard but we are doing the best we can...one step at a time.
Next week is already Thanksgiving so yes the Christmas ads for Black Friday are on. I hated those ads because it ruined Thanksgiving. You used to love to get up and sick and all go banging with the bargain hunters....I used to say you were nuts...but you made sure each and every last thing that was on their list was taken care of...this year those ads suck even worse because of what I just said and now the official kickoff to Christmas is going to be here and light up nights and all....and well it is going to just really sick for awhile that's all...
I miss you and they say time heals....I guess they mean more than a week...because I don't feel too healed at this point...acting as if...but not too healed.
Love you...love you...love you...
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Not looking forward to doing this single parent thing tomorrow morning. I love you and still can't help but think this is not real at times. Still have your laundry in basket that we did just over a week ago. Maybe if I don't put it away you will....or you will yell and tell me you are tripping over it so move it....
Now there is a train whistle and the rumbling thunder of the engines outside and Laura Story Blessing is on. Too tired to change it....I think I am going to stop now. Sorry honey but you know how much I love you and I will try again maybe at lunch. I can't do this right now.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I began to reach out to some that I owed text returns or calls to and made sure they weren't going to waste the day. Last week was hard enough....today was a recharge day. The kids were great. They are really doing an amazing job of bonding, and had our fourth son up to join them. Jesse blew off a free meal with uncle mike but SOMMA'S had ribs....they didn't last real long when I brought them home. The generosity of the community is overwhelming. It has been so supportive in many ways, by the way thanks for helping per-organize the dinner list....who does that..."hey when I am gone make sure they have meals on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.....Really? You took care of our dinner plans? You are too much.
So as I said I reached out to others because the boys and I don't have a monopoly on this grieving thing. Plus somehow I figured it was something you would have done. Felt like something you would have done. Continue to get emails from carcinoid patients and others from here and across the globe as to how you impacted them or their families. I am responding to each one personally because I know that was dear to your heart. You shooing me out because you were deep into a call with a fellow fighter from lord knows where and you didn't really care that the pirates had pulled ahead or that the dog needed food or that Macy's was having a sale on candles....I finally get it. The Internet and Facebook can be a great tool.
On a quick note...tomorrow is Logan's soccer banquet....we are going because it was part of your plans two weeks ago and although it will be hard at times I wouldn't want you to miss it. So we go..you join us with peace and strength from above and we will ensure Logan knows how special he is....he worked his tail off this year....
I can't say it was all giggles today but it was more good than bad. So stay with us and I look forward to catching up again tomorrow. Love you so much baby....
But I know it's all make believe...Mr Rogers Time To Move On Without Me Neighborhood....We always had time before your surgeries here or before the trips to Basel to contemplate the what ifs....to write things down...to talk to the kids...to give hugs...and say be home soon...this was so anticlimatic in so many ways....it was a blood sugar level that had to be brought down...it wasn't supposed to be a death sentence....after all the researching and preparing we did it still snuck up on us and with a vengeance.
Right now I was holding your hand....dabbing your mouth....this exact moment as I type this you gave me that final hard squeeze and the thumbs up....thanks for that because every day I struggle in some way with the notion that I let this doctor who didn't know how our Sunny fought from the patient next door give up on you too soon....thanks for that reassuring gesture because if not I would really feel like I let you down. Honey I would do anything ....anything at all for you if it would have given you relief...if it would have given you comfort and kept you here in our midst....I know I know you are here with the sunrise and have given us several reassuring signs since but you know what I mean...I want you here next to me...to kiss...to laugh with....yes you watch over us but that concept is going to take time....sorry....but the suddenness of it all still befuddles a lot of us.
I remember how as the nurse put the oxygen breathing tube in you turned your head on its side towards me so that I could look at that beautiful face to the very end. And you were so beautiful. Your smile broke hearts it was that good. You just stared at me with the one open eye and I knew the breathing was getting shorter but it still didn't hit me until it just sort of faded away. I held your hand because I didn't want to let go...I don't know if I thought I could do finger to finger resuscitation or what but I just held on....seeing you in that bed...you looked like peace....even as I lost my best friend, my one true love...eventually I will be more at peace but for now I fake it....because as you said we should cry and then get back to living...I am forcing myself to do the latter so I can find the peace...
You always amazed me and pushed me but importantly you loved me...and I only hope you knew how much I loved you. It's been a real hard week but we will be strong. A lot of prayers and faith. I really really miss you. Talk to you tomorrow baby...
Thursday, November 8, 2012
I will put my game face on...I will be positive in the midst of the tempest...because I know that Romans 5 was what we lived by. It is hard but not impossible to rejoice in our sufferings. I went out today and found several "good things" and I journaled them...just for you and I to visit on when I come to visit you over at plum creek....I will do this everyday...I encouraged the boys to do the same...find or make that good thing and just as you used to do write it down somewhere...I will follow your lead and encourage not discourage others as they struggle with this. No one loved you more than I did...and because of that love no one can be a downer if I can see the positive in whatever moment may arise...you taught me that over and over again.
I love you so much....the boys and I are proud to be known as Sunny Carney's family...we would have it no other way. I love you and you will always be my Sunshine. Talk to you soon.
You don't need to worry about the boys thinking you were a terrible mom though. They pulled on your strength today to each speak in tribute to you and I know you were there and telling Moses or Abraham..."those r my boys....now what....". You saw how this morning was so hard for them...I think we all hoped that maybe if we went in slo-mo and missed it it wouldn't happen. We got there and it was great to see your face again but still so weird not to hear your voice. I miss so much recapping things like today with you like always...and trading stories on who we caught up with etc. Weddings, funerals, fundraisers, these were the nights we hung out before crashing.
It was no use for Chuck to hold the doors because I think the first come first serve seating arrangement had everyone there early. I told Pastor Frank it was going to b a Christmas size crowd. One thing I kind of wonder is did your family get enough time to say goodbye. There was so much love from the community this whole week. What did you think of Roz? Unbelievable and best one yet. She is so strong but she joked beforehand you were behind her propping her up. The boys blew me away. They were so strong for you that any doubts you had of how they would miss you had to e gone by the time Austen was two sentences in. He fought through the emotions and then turned to Logan but how about that hug? I told them not one direction just do it from the heart. Logan was going to wing it at first but as he saw his brothers working on theirs last night he pulled paper out and did an amazing job. Again watching the hugs after was so great. Nolan did what he always does...somehow manages to be the perfect close to the show so to speak...they fought back the tears, mixed in enough humor and paid perfect tribute to you each in their own way.
You could feel the presence of God just like that weekend when you spoke at all three services. I miss you so much. Like Def Leppard song...."this empty bed is a night alone" except here we are not foolin. This is hard because I feel like we should have had more of a goodbye at home. I would give anything to answer my "favorite" question just once more....."hey mark...how is sunny doing?"
I would love to help fight one more day.
What were you thinking when you saw all of the cars pull out of the church? I was thinking how humbling it was to have been married to not just my hero but a whole communities. The love that flowed forth as everyone gathered around the box and then you had to stick your head out from behind the clouds to see the doves scatter. Unreal.
I was so touched earlier when I was going through your emails earlier and there were two from Carcinoid friends expressing condolences. I sent notes back already don't worry. These two women said how inspiring you were as they helped loved ones fight. I heard so many stories like that the past couple of days. You still inspire me. I know how hard it will be for you not to be at Logan's side at the soccer banquet. It was his first big moment in spotlight so to speak. I know you were so looking forward to it. I will make sure he has the best time he can and forgets about this for awhile. I may step out for Seniors regonition. Remember the baseball banquet. Thanks for listening and you know that your presence is all around us. We will be strong for you and make sure that how u lived your life is a blueprint for all of us.
It's so empty up here without you. I need someone kicking me. Taking sheets and I have way too many big fluffy pillows. I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I know that we will be strong and get through this, God , family, friends , and half of Western PA are behind us....but I guess this is my last night as a married man. I miss you so much and wish we had just one more hug one more laugh one more trip for treatment I don't care...just one more something. I know how hard you fought...I know how much you tried to not show the pain...I wish I could have done so much more to take it away. Emotionally this was one hell of a journey...and now that the train has stopped I feel like I got dropped not a station but in the middle of nowhere. Even Oscar is lost. He was always by your side , we joked he knew your were on pain....but I don't think it was a joke.
Don't worry about us...but please watch over us...because this will be a tough stretch...especially the holidays. I cherish that afternoon two weeks ago when I got to wheel you through the mall and we picked out gifts for the boys. The determination you showed to finish your list was so you. I don't even know who the kids and I have in the grab bag.
I am so thankful that we went to Amy's wedding and had one last family trip to the beach. And I am so glad that all of your family got to be with you. You were so beautiful when you made your speech. You were struggling the whole time in the room but you never wanted to show it and be a downer. Your ability to pull on your faith to get overcome challenges was a miracle that took place everyday.
I am still stunned by how quick it ended. The ride down and the walks we took on Wednesday night and Thursday around the floor seemed like little at the time but mean so much now. The trips to Basel which were long and painful drew us so close that I felt like we had four honeymoons in a way. It was such an intense closening dependent on each other in a place far from home that cemented bonds between us that I hope our kids can someday experience with their other half. Without the cancer of course.
I will see you in a few hours but it will not be goodbye. You will be with me and the boys always and we will continue to live in a way which you would be proud. Thanks so much for these past 21 years baby and for teaching me how to love.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
After weeks of increased swelling in her legs, and of fighting various different blood count issues, we were sitting on the couch Wednesday afternoon before the kids came home and the conversation steered around the last supper and communion. In fact she asked me to text our Pastor and ask him to come over on Thursday and share communion at the house. It strikes me now how either one can say it was incredibly ironic that this would be the subject of our last true heart to heart conversation at home or one could say it was reaffirming assurance that God's hand writes every chapter of our life and we just need to be faithful enough to read the directions he gives each of us in individually unique ways. Sunny had never asked for communion at home, but by asking for it, and although ultimately we never had the opportunity, but by asking for it, God was definitely preparing her heart and soul for the next 72 hours.
When we went got the call from her doctor at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon we had just had dinner dropped off, in fact Aunt Joan was still there....I was getting ready to drive Austen to an away hoop game, and Lisa was coming to sit with Sunny to keep her company, and to help get off the couch....etc...The doctor said her blood sugar was high, she needed to come , not a rush , before midnight, get some fluids, some insulin, and then could go home Thursday afternoon. It was stressful in a way, but this didn't seem like the beginning of the last short chapter of her life here on this earth. We didn't get to go home Thursday but her count had improved from 486 to 261 and we were almost there. After spending the night and day when I ran home to shower leaving her in the good hands of her sister Lynn, it was another hectic night at the Carney house. Grandma was in charge of helping our two younger boys make salsa for class, Lisa had dropped off the ingredients, we couldn't find the processor, garbage had to go out, the dog needed fed, just another typical frantic evening at home...it felt normal...Sunny called a couple of times to offer input and give advice, since this was her salsa recipe, and she had to make sure it was done right, so her kids wouldn't be disappointed. She was coming home on Friday they told us..and we told the boys.
After getting back around 8:30 on Thursday it was still pretty normal. Sunny was lucid, we got her up and walked around the floor and the hall for a bit...we talked about the about grades, about Austen's practice, about Nolan's guitar lesson that night, and Logan's salsa-making skills...We waited for a new mattress that was going to be changed at 10 that night per doctors orders...At eleven fifteen when the mattress was taken care of she put the nurse in his place when he complained about having to switch it and how they were shortstaffed so he hoped she liked it and wouldn't need it switched back....I will say in an aside that other than this one experience the care during this short chapter was remarkable...it went beyond anything that was expected....there was care given with smiles that 5 star hotels would be envious of...maybe this was Sunny's one last chance to share wisdom...about priorities...because this nurse got the "I've got weeks to go fighting before I die and you are worried about changing a mattress". In retrospect it was the final Sunny smackdown but it really had a message behind her words. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't bitch about
things that aren't going to matter in the bigger scheme of things.
Things changed dramatically after midnight. Her counts doubled. Of course as she dozed off, in and out of it, I thought it was the meds. At 9:15 Friday morning as Dr. Friedland asked me to step out into the hall to speak, as tears formed in his eyes, as he started to tell me that things were progressing, as he hit me with have you and Sunny discussed living will? I think I did my best Gilligan impression and answered back to the Skipper, with hands up "Uh..so we aren't going home today? And then I am pretty sure my head did the Exorcist spin several times. We talked and he said he wanted to tell me this personally since he was off over the weekend. My head spun a few more times as I asked him "So it can't wait to Monday when we come in for her treatment? It finally sunk in. He shared how inpsired he had been watching Sunny fight and having the opportunity to help her over the past four years and how his own mother had passed away from cancer at 53...and we shared a moment. It was surreal. There was all of the buzz of the 7 Main floor around us, but I was oblivious. I went back in and before I started the phone and text chain to family and friends I sat and held her hand....stroking and sobbing, sharing words of encouragement and praying....she squeezed back and I think she was letting me know it would all be OK. I love her so much. And this is the hardest thing I ever put to paper but if I have to stop ten more times and come back I promise you Sunshine that I will finish this last short chapter for you.
She got one more ultrasound of the stomach to see if there was one last straw...a blockage...maybe the bilirubin was blocked and they could buy some more time...when she came back the room the love began to pour out. Sisters, in-laws, out-laws, nephews, Mom, friends from the old home in Greenfield and the new home in Plum...and most importantly...Austen, Logan, and Nolan. The 7th Floor Main Family Lounge, the hallway outside room 714, and the area by the elevators were filled with those who came not to pay respects, but to encourage, to talk with her through grips and nods, to cry to laugh and to pray. It was an unbelievable outpouring of love that I know meant a lot to me and I know Sunny was able to hear every word, feel every swab of water, soak in the skin lotion, and share in the love. Seeing my sons go in numerous times on their own, by themselves with their mom, having that chance to be with their mom as hard as it was for them to see her like that, having them return time after time to be by her side, it was hard, but they knew their mom was fighting, and listening....and they surely had to feel her love through the squeezes. Boys I am Damn proud of you. The gathering was a small crowd, her nurse said they had never seen anything like it....I said thats been said a lot about Sunny over the past ten years.
Everyone began to trickle out and by 1:00 as my parents and brother went to leave, her nurse said she was going to send the doctor in because they were having trouble keeping her pulse steady. I remember it was 60 over 32. Her breathing was laboring. Her heart was slowing. He explained me to that the
meds were not working to keep the pulse going. They were concerned she might be starting to have a lot of pain. They asked me what did Sunny and I decide was more important....continuing to try to pick up the pulse with no guarranty of results or focus on pain relief. When you discuss this stuff on a couch at home, or in a car on the way to a treatment, when you pray about together numerously it all seems so clear and easy. When you have to say "her wish was not to have to suffer at the end or to have anyone see her suffer" it sucks. Real life is a lot harder than dry rehearsals and hypotheticals. It was 1:30. Saturday morning. Just over 24 hours removed from watching her put the nurse in his place , standing on her two feet in the hall. I kept thinking how is this possible? What the hell was going on? This can't be real? This is way too fast and it must be a dream. Going back now to where I was able to hold her hand for the last two hours. My parents and brother stayed, giving me space and alone time by waiting out in the lounge. Thank you. Right before her sister Sheila arrived I was holding her hand talking about the boys and their love, telling her how proud I have been to accompany her on this incredible journey, how it was the like the band on the Titanic, when the one musician turns and says how it was an honor to have played with you tonight gentlemen...I told her how priviliged and honored I was that God gave me the chance to fight with her. I told her it was OK to stop fighting on our account...that heaven or Jesus was waiting...and she squeezed my hand as hard as it had been squeezed all day....and gave me a thumbs up. Those that say there is no God and those that may question why just have to realize that he is in charge...and that Sunny had been given the chance to have the closure she wanted for us. For her boys. That one gesture, the thumbs up around 3:00 showed me that she was there for it all, and was ready. And soon after she answered the call. Heaven's gain is this world's loss. Sunny I love you and I will hurt and miss you but I know you are no longer in pain....and I know how you lived and fought and even though the years before and after the dash may not be far apart, you lived more in 42 years than most will do in twice that amount of time. Thank you for being you. Thank you for raising our boys the way you did. Thank you for inspiring all of us who had knew you and loved you. Thank you for leaving those CONCRETE FOOTPRINTS behind.
Those footprints came through this morning when the boys ran the race for their mother this and
then spoke their thoughts to everyone. Their courage and strength is your legacy....your footprint...three of them...forged by the love their mother gave them....and molded by the inspiring way you lived each day. They are footsteps of not just concrete, but rebar enforced concrete. GOD walks with them. They will carry on the legacy and be a lasting testament to how you chose to life.
I love you. I love you. I love you. Thanks again for all of the wonderful memories and time spent together.