The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 19, 2014

VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

JOPLIN, Mo. — A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

After learning the severity of her diagnosis at an Arizona cancer center about two weeks ago, Jordan and her closest friend, Rachel Pyron, sat down in their hotel room and created a bucket list.

Jordan’s first item? A wedding.

She and her husband, Jon Jordan, eloped seven years ago, so she never had her dream wedding.

In a week’s time, Pyron and friends secretly sorted out the details to make it happen.

On Saturday, Jordan wore a flowing white wedding gown with bright pink accents during an emotional ceremony at the Christman Event Center in Joplin. Her father walked her down the aisle.

Click here to see a video of Schandera Jordan walking down the aisle with her father.

Everything for the wedding was donated by local businesses and friends.

The couple was living away from family when they married and decided not to have a ceremony. They now have three children, ages 2, 7 and 8, and live in Carthage.

“We said we were going to have a wedding later on, but then life got in the way,” Jordan said.

After her diagnosis last year, Jordan underwent the hysterectomy and was cancer free, or so she thought. A few months later, doctors found a couple of cloudy areas that were ruled out.

“Five months later, after another CAT scan, I got a call that it was in the pancreas and lungs,” she said. “That diagnosis was really hard to hear, really hard to stomach.”

This wasn’t the first time Pyron had organized a last-minute wedding. She did the same thing for a childhood friend who later lost her battle with breast cancer.

“We put her wedding together in a week,” Pyron said. “When I was doing her wedding, she was so sick and didn’t get to enjoy it.”

After a round of chemotherapy treatments in Arizona, Pyron said she looked at Jordan as she slept and realized what she had to do.

Jordan told Pyron after the diagnosis that she just wanted to wear a wedding dress.

“And then I thought how she’s going to lose her hair really fast,” Pyron said.

So, Pyron created a private Facebook page and started making wedding plans. She was able to keep it a secret from Jordan for three days.

“Rachel came over and said we were going to do a photo shoot,” Jordan said. “I had been really emotional a couple minutes prior to her telling me.”

Then, her husband proposed, and Rachel announced that she would have her dream wedding on Saturday.

“She said, ‘We’re going to pick out your dress in 30 minutes,’” Jordan said. “It was amazing. I didn’t even have time to let it sink in and let it hit me. It’s been great. The people who came out to support it ... it’s amazing.”

There’s no cure for the form of cancer she has, and Jordan will have to undergo radiation treatments for the rest of her life.

“I don’t know how long I have,” she said, but she knows she wants to live the rest of her life happy.

“My biggest thing of all of this is the legacy that I want to leave behind for my kids,” she said. “I want my name to be known, and I want my condition to be known. I want fundraisers in my name to help other people who are suffering, who are dying and the hardships that comes with that. I think that the legacy left behind with my kids is the best thing that I can give them.”

New friendships have been formed since plans for the wedding began.

One of Pyron’s friends, Tara Midence, a professional photographer, took photos of the wedding.

“Today was the first time I actually got to meet (Jordan),” she said, adding they had got to talk during the planning process. “Now we became friends because of this whole ordeal.”

Midence helped organize the wedding, and said people from all over the community donated almost everything.

“It was truly the biggest honor to do this for her,” she said.

Jordan was surprised with a limousine that took her to the wedding, and the venue decorations were kept secret.

Before the wedding, Jordan smiled as she spoke of Pyron, whom she met when their sons started kindergarten together.

“God, I love that woman,” she said.

Throughout a hectic week of planning, Pyron had to charge her phone several times a day to keep up with all the calls that were pouring in. But instead of worrying about herself, Pyron continued to focus on the bride.

“She looked beautiful,” Pyron said. “Her smile was definitely the best part of today.”

Fundraiser

A website has been created to raise money for the Jordan family. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/87jjso. The money donated will go toward medical bills and traveling expenses.

 

Correction: Previous versions of this story misspelled Rachel's last name as "Tyron." The correct spelling is "Pyron."

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