Who would believe that amputating a leg would actually bring joy to someone's life.
Kristi Wimberly, who at age 6 was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord tumor called astrocytoma, spent most of her life covering up the fact that her right leg stopped growing at the same pace as her other.
She suffered nerve damage during surgeries to remove the tumor, which meant the growth of her right leg was stunted, leaving it a full two inches shorter than the other and unable to walk without a brace.
The St. Louis resident, who is 32 today, told SWNS about her lifelong struggle of feeling embarrassed by her "ugly" leg.
"People would make fun of my wheelchair and my crutches and I just desperately wanted to fit in so I would try and hide my disability in any way I could,” she said.
Kristy had 19 surgeries to try and lengthen her leg, and after every procedure she was confined to a wheelchair and crutches for months and plagued with recurrent infections in her wounds caused by the pressure of her brace.
But the wife and mother of one had finally had enough, and decided to get her leg amputated in July. “Finally making that decision to have my leg cut off was the best thing I ever did. It’s totally changed my confidence.”
Kristy now shows off her high-tech prosthetic limb with confidence, "I'm so proud of it, and thankful for the new life it's given me.” She went on to say, "When I do wear pants I cut off one of the legs to show off my prosthesis.”
Doctors fit her with a bionic knee, controlled by the weight and movement of her upper leg, which can be operated by her smart phone and can be switched into different modes for activities like running or tennis.
Ever since her surgery, her husband Don is happy to see a big shift in Kristy’s confidence. She’s started training to cycle and kayak 120 miles along the Florida coastline this fall.
"It's daunting because it's something I would never have been able to do before, but I'm determined. I want to make up for those years I missed out on now that I can," she said.