Her Saving Grace
(Provided/ Grace Shin)
“I really just wish everyone would enjoy life,” Grace Shin, a University of Central Oklahoma student, said.
Shin is majoring in kinesiology, a part of UCO’s golf team and a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She grew up in Tulsa and is a 2015 graduate of Union High School.
Shin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April. She said she began to have back spasms in February, and saw numerous back specialists.
She continued having lower back pain, and at a golf tournament in April, she started losing her vision. After seeing an eye doctor, they referred her to a cancer specialist, who then diagnosed her.
“I didn’t treat it for two and a half months,” Shin said.
She immediately went into chemotherapy after her diagnosis, and is currently in remission.
Her vision continued to worsen while she was in the hospital.
“The vision started getting more blurry. In the hospital I couldn’t see people, so they’d have to tell me who they were,” Shin said.
Shin said chemotherapy has taken a toll on her. Since she was diagnosed when she was 20, the doctors had to decide whether to treat her as an adult or child. She ended up being treated as an adult.
“After chemo, I feel bad for two weeks. I start feeling better and have to go back into treatment. I never have time to feel good for a really long time,” Shin said.
At one point, Shin was put into a medically induced coma while in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
“I just wish everyone would and should live your life. Do everything you want every day and love doing it. I could’ve died in the ICU. And there’s a reason I came back and I am well and healthy again,” Shin said.
Shin said she has some new perspectives after what she’s been through.
“I don’t want people to take life for granted. Especially after what I’ve seen. I feel like I took life for granted before. Now, when I wake up, I’m thankful for each day. There was a time when I was asleep for a week and a half. Be thankful for every little thing. Look on the bright side of things. The glass is half full, not empty.”
Shin has started a blog a WordPress called “My Life. My Story.” She has written five articles on the blog so far. She writes about some of the turbulence she experiences.
“Writing makes me feel better. If I post it, I don’t know if anyone would relate to it. It makes me feel better that other people might relate and know how I feel.”
Shin said the things she writes about are sometimes the things she isn’t asked about.
“I started writing the blogs cause (sic) I wanted to have it in writing how I felt. I felt like writing how I felt. It helps me but if someone saw it might help them too.”
Her most recent article is titled 7/8. It is her thoughts on her most recent chemo, and her excitement about having her last one toward the end of the month.
“This has been the longest journey and challenge I’ve ever had to face and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Shin said in her article.
Before her diagnosis, Shin was also writing blogs for the Odyssey. She had 18 stories, one of which received over 2,000 views. Her latest article was in May, titled An Open Letter to Leukemia. In this article, she wrote as if she was talking to the illness.
Shin said her family, friends and boyfriend have been a big part of keeping her upbeat.
Shin’s boyfriend, Trent Young, is a junior at UCO in the Professional Golf Association golf management program.
“It’s been hard for her to stay positive sometimes. She’s usually really upbeat, but some days you could she was just down,” Young said.
Young said Shin’s writing seems to be a good outlet for her. “It’s good that she keeps everyone updated. I think a lot of people are worried so it kind of keeps them updated. I think it’s kind of a release sometimes too,” Young said.
Young has known Shin since their freshman year of college, and started dating in February.
“It kind of changes how you look at things. This all happened so fast. It makes you appreciate every day,” Young said.
Shin said Young carried her down 3 flights of stairs when she was having her intense back pain, and drove her to the emergency room.
Shin played golf from her sixth-grade year until her sophomore year of high school. She joined the leadership program at Union and participated in that until graduation. After UCO’s golf team asked her to join them, she committed to UCO her junior year of high school.
Shin said her dream job would be to be a professional golfer.
“I want to teach golf and I want other people to fall in love with golf as much as I am.”
Shin’s nerves in her feet have been affected. “I wish I would’ve ran around more, hiked more, played one more round of golf. I haven’t played golf since I’ve been sick.”
During her sophomore year of college, Shin joined the sorority Alpha Delta Pi. “They’ve been super helpful. They made shirts when I was sick and the proceeds went to help with the medical funds,” Shin said. Her family started a Go Fund Me as well to help with her medical bills.
Orange ribbons were also made in support of Shin.
Michael Bond, the women’s golf coach at UCO, said that it was a combination of teams that made the orange ribbons. Orange is the color for leukemia awareness, and the shirts that were made by the sorority were orange as well.
“When we went to conference in regionals they handed them out at the tournament,” Michael said. “Players and coaches from all over the nation would wear them in April and May. About 3 days after her diagnosis, is when the orange ribbons spread. Some teams are still wearing them this fall to support her.”