ST. LOUIS - After decades of feeling ashamed, made fun of and hiding her underdeveloped leg, a St. Louis woman decided to have it amputated.
Last summer, Kristy Wimberly made the tough decision to have her right leg amputated above her knee. It was a decision 25 years in the making.
“When I was 5, I had a benign spinal cord astrocytoma, which is a tumor inside my spinal cord," she said.
Nineteen surgeries and a lifetime of chemo damaged the nerves in her legs, preventing them from growing normally.
“I got made fun of a lot growing up. Emotionally, I was insecure and I hid it a lot,” Wimberly said.
It was emotional and physical hell. Then one day, Wimberly's love of trucks took her to a car show where she met a woman who didn’t have arms and was painting with her feet. That day she decided she could be happy despite being an amputee.
“Once I flipped my thinking, why am I ashamed of myself, ashamed of this or my body, I became a whole new person," she said.
Wimberly now loves her prosthetic leg. She credits her family and her Wells Fargo work-family, where she has been employed for 11 years, for supporting her journey.
“My mind is so positive; go, go, go, but my body isn’t there yet,” she said.
Wimberly said she's learning to walk all over again, but this time she is enjoying it. And her four-year-old daughter sees her as a hero.
“She loves it. When I pick her up at daycare, she tells her friends, 'Look at my mom’s robot leg!' She thinks it’s the coolest thing ever,” she said.
The combination ofWimberly’s story and her love of trucks made her a national story. In about seven months, she has gained over 20,000 Instagram followers. She is scheduled to do a national story next week and gets constant well-wishes and questions on how to deal with similar situations.
“I walk better than before, I have more confidence. I'm just happy,” she said.
Wimberly had her custom truck built for the Las Vegas SEMA Show, but is now using it show that being different shouldn’t stop you from doing big things. She said she's ready to accept speaking engagements in schools, businesses, and organizations.