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 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
C/o S & T Bank
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.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Enough medical stuff. I don't want to sound horrible to all you who love me but I can't go into all the medical things right now. I need loved and loved. Please respect my family and just love us. Please don't hit me for a few days with medical questions. We don't know our medical choice of action. We are looking, so asking us what we are going to do medically will only frustrate us. I do know that I'm not quitting and will be on some chemo. My answer until Tuesday is pray for a miracle that a new treatment will pop up.
Now what is on my mind. I was talking to a friend, actually crying with a friend. I love that a friend can feel so much love for you that they cry with you. Anyways she said to me, "Sunny you have your footprints all over the world." I asked her what she meant and she answered that I have made a difference. I thought ok everyone does, that's why we are here. That's why God gave us to the world, Right? She asked me to write about that.
So here I am trying to put that in words. What does it mean to leave footprints? NOT FOOTPRINTS IN SAND, BUT FOOTPRINTS IN CONCRETE. We always see those beautiful beach pictures of with footprints in them. In fact i think I've taken a few. That's the first thing that came to my mind when she said I left footprints for everyone. My book, my blog, my actions, my words and everything. Then I thought of my boys and said that's what I hope I did, left some sand footprints for them to have. But I remember those footprints make a pretty picture but as soon as the water splashes up they are washed away clean. I don't want all the footprints that I worked to hard to make get washed away by a wave. That wave to me is a symbol of hard times. I want to leave FOOTPRINTS IN CONCRETE. I WANT MY BOYS TO BE ABLE TO FEEL MY FOOTPRINTS ON THEIR HEARTS. I want to leave my footprints for everyone. My brother said something like he cant go on with out my big smile when times are hard and nothings going to be the same. Well he's right. It can't be the same when someone whose been there is not there, but my footprints hopefully made it better. Of course this is all figurative but I mean my words and actions.
What am I talking about footprints? I am talking about what I have done during this cancer journey to make this world a better place. I hope I have first taught my boys the beginning of manhood. I hope I taught them how to love the world, fight during hard times, love during non-loving times and laugh during sad times. I hope I have showed that giving up is not an option when thinks look hopeless. I hope that during those hopeless times step back, let go of the wheel and let Jesus drive. Actually I hope I have taught many people these things. Thank God I have not given up because how different my boys life would be. I was determined to not give in and at times I thought I could not go on. I would then close my eyes and look for my concrete footprints. Then if there is not enough I knew it was time to tie those boots up and make more footprints. I am told that I am leaving footprints for others and I feel so humbled by that because I am just doing what I would normal do....fight like hell with dignity and faith. I realize that my faith is my footprints. My footprints are how my journey is with God. So He has been given my the strength to get off the sand and step in the concrete. I am making the footprints in concrete with him. He is given me the strength to push down and then He pulls me out leaving behind my actions, words, faith and inspiration.....MY FOOTPRINT. It's all through Him. How blessed I am to be able to do that through my cancer journey. I want to stress I am not giving up. We are still looking for option and right now I will start some kind of Chemo. But I am also finding my peace too.
My question to you all is where are you leaving your footprints? Take my journey the last 4 1/2 years and continue. Leave some footprints for me. Continue this journey. We all have our cancers and if you think you don't trust me one day it'll come. Please know this is not a letter of goodbye. This is a blog of inspiration. Please don't give up in your life. Show others that life is awesome if you choose to see it. I feel so blessed that I had this journey. But I am not done unless God is telling me. My boys, Mark and my family are my focus now. Of course I am still looking for that miracle treatment. I am asking all my carcinoid posse to please email me your new treatments. We need to work together. I need your advice my carcinoid friends..
To all my friends and warriors please cry with me. Don't close me out and lets have fun. I love you all. Sunday is a big day withe the fifth annual Wiffle Ball tournament for carcinoid cancer. Please show up and love me. Please start making your footprints.
Love you all,
Monday, October 15, 2012
Needing some extra prayers my friends. Love you all.
Don't forget to register for the Wiffle Ball tournament. Praying I don't miss it.
Friday, October 12, 2012
First and most importantly the Fifth Annual Wiffle Ball tournament is October 21st. Please register your team. You can pay at the door. Don't forget all ages can play. Everyone is put into its age bracket. There is nothing better then to see a 65 yr old grandpa play with their 8 yr old grandson. Registering your team guarantees a great spot. You can pay that morning at door but it's important to register. You can do that above. All are welcomed though. There is beer donated by Miller, food donated by Shop n Save and DJ Lou. The fun part is the dancing and kids zone. I cant help to mention Plum's biggest Chinese auction and amazing silent auction. We have some awesome sports memorabilia this year. Several signed items and tickets. So come to watch, eat and dance. It's all about the positive of cancer. Yes there is some good in cancer; come and see.
As mentioned I usually blog about the amazing days I have in spite of cancer. The last few months I missed blogging about some pretty big milestones. Let me explain why. In June we did scans and found out that the cancer is spreading. I started radiation the first week of July and it dropped my immune system and my blood levels. But Dr. Freidland, Dr. Liu and I still felt that time was wasting and cancer was growing quickly that we needed to take the risk and start the new chemotherapy cycle of IV, and 2 drugs. We knew this was a risk. It is a very very strong treatment but we all felt we could not wait any longer. So after my radiation I immediately started the chemo. I did okay but it started to knock me out. Then it all started falling apart. And just lifting my head was to hard so I had to save my energy to get through the event, blogging was out of the question. After three rounds of the chemotherapy cycles (14 days on 14 dates off) I got a bad case of the shingles and internal fungal infection together. That's what I'm fighting now. Just getting through day to day was tough. Boys needed to get ready for back to school and all their sports started. Mark was swimming with the sharks and trying to keep his head above water. But we had so much help and support from my family and friends. It was like big strong hugs.
I'm now dealing with some blood level issues that is effecting my heart. This week we got some scary news and we will found out more next week what is actually going on. However, I have been so blessed with an outpouring of love and help. I'm fighting hard and will never give in to this cancer. I want to start the chemotherapy cycle soon but I just can't get strong enough. So please please continue to pray. Last years theme for the Wiffle Ball tournament was "We're going to love you though it". I have to say I am totally loved through it. God has been with me through it all and he has given me the most amazing family, friends, and support system. Enjoy the song above.
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.
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.