Amy Purdy, a contestant on this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” has inspired many Central Virginia people living with loss of limbs.
Purdy is a paralympian who had both legs amputated years ago after contracting bacterial meningitis. Her story hits close to home for Chesterfield mother Robin Yoder who lost her leg to cancer four years ago this summer.
“I just had to embrace that, ‘Okay, this has happened to me,'” she says.
Yoder was in the middle of training for a triathlon. The avid athlete knew something was wrong when she noticed a heaviness in her right leg. A visit to the doctor revealed a large mass close to her knee. Surgeons said her entire leg would need to be amputated.
Telling her 14-year-old was heartbreaking, but his response changed Yoder’s outlook.
“He looked me squarely in the eyes and he said, ‘Mom, amputate your leg. I want you to have the best chance to see me grow up,'” she says.
Yoder was wheeled into the operating room with this message written clearly on her leg:
“For those who handle my leg today, please do so with respect. It means something to me. Robin Yoder.”
Hours later, she woke up and pushed forward.
“I couldn’t look back because my leg was gone,” she says. “I was never gonna get that back but I was going to have a new world to embrace.”
Yoder says there’s been challenges – learning to walk, riding a bike and even running.
In fact, she’s in a temporary wheelchair right now because she hurt her foot during the Monument 10K race in March.
“Am I disabled? I guess by the written law, I’m disabled, but to me disabled means I just have to do things differently,” Yoder says.
Just one of her prosthetic legs costs nearly $90,000. Yoder says she never could have made it through without the financial and emotional support of others.
“What would you do when you were discouraged?” asked ABC 8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton.
Yoder’s responded: “Cry. Cry and then get up.”
Getting up is something this proud mother says she’ll do no matter how hard things get.
“I have control over how I get up every day and make something good of my life,” said Yoder.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond