Indiana wedding planner reaches national spotlight while fighting battle at home

Indiana wedding planner reaches national spotlight while fighting battle at home
Tonya Shadoan and her daughter, Kate (WTHR photo)
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First comes love, then comes marriage... Not the case for an extreme social experiment turned reality show.

A Fishers mother got the call to be in the middle of "Married at First Sight" where strangers agree to marry strangers. She agreed - but not before getting her daughter's blessing.

Tonya Shadoan has been a wedding planner for 13 years. She even owns her own business in Indianapolis - Circle City Planners.

Currently, she's planning for an October wedding - an easy deadline compared to what she just pulled off for the reality show.

"I basically came in on a Monday night there were three weddings in two days," Shadoan said. "I had a $7,000 budget for all three weddings - with décor and all of it. I was by myself. They told me that had a venue and several things lined up - I had absolutely nothing."

Add to that extra jittery brides who had agreed to go with a panel of four experts recommendation for their groom and marry him the moment they met. It's an extreme social experiment and even Tonya doesn't know yet if a true match was made.

"I think Jamie and Doug are going to stay together even though she was, like, mortified when I saw her....I'm the first to see her. When she came out, she was like, 'Oh my gosh, help me'."

It was stressful - the kind of environment where Shadoan's daughter Kate says her Mom thrives.

"She has never been taken aback by emergencies. She is always like, 'What can we do to go forward?'" said the 15-year-old.

Which is a good trait to have, considering Kate's health.

"I was diagnosed February 1 with Hodgkin's lymphoma - stage three," Kate explained. "Stage three is when it's lower than rib cage."

Kate had chemotherapy. Now, she's in the middle of 28 radiation appointments at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

"I have to tell you that we all go through up and downs in our life, but for your daughter to be diagnosed with cancer is probably the hardest thing I've ever done because it's my baby," Tonya said tearfully.

Kate made the JV cheerleading team as a freshman at Fishers High School and, despite a reduced schedule, kept up with her class, is regaining her strength, and will be a sophomore this fall.

"My nurse Alisha always told me it's 80/20 - like 80 percent is your mindset and 20 percent is how you actually feel. So if you are positive about it, it can lessen your side effects," Kate said.

"You take the good and the bad and the ugly and make the most of it, right?" Tonya added. "That is all you can do, right?"