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Virginia woman loses arms and legs, but kept her smile: 'You can't be ashamed of yourself'

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Posted at 12:02 PM, Mar 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-05 12:02:07-05

GORDONSVILLE, Va. -- In the tiny Orange County, Virginia town of Gordonsville, you won’t find much hustle and certainly no bustle. That is just the way Trinica Lee likes it.

“It’s nice and quiet. Everyone knows each other. Everyone helps each other out,” Lee said. “You can just relax and be at ease.”

Lee will tell you about her favorite place — if you can catch her.

“I don’t let the grass grow under these tires because I’m always moving,” she said.

Born a paraplegic, she entered this world facing monumental odds.

“I became paralyzed from the waist down,” Lee said.

But one thing you’ll notice about the 36-year-old woman is she smiles a lot.

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“I let my good days outweigh my bad days,” Lee said.

In a wheelchair since she was five, she overcame her disability and has thrived.

"Didn’t know anything else,” Lee said. “Just knew I had to go through life and make the best of it. You can’t cry over spilled milk. It’s already done.”

Lee was even diagnosed with cerebral palsy and had a kidney removed two years ago but she remained determined to succeed.

She rolled into the spotlight in 2012 when she competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Pageant.

She won Ms. Congeniality.

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“That is one thing you can’t be is ashamed of yourself," she said. "And that is one thing I wasn’t. I wasn’t ashamed of myself."

Leading a full life, Lee has worked as a Walmart greeter since 2017.

Big sister Tonya Lee said her sibling doesn’t know the meaning of quit.

“From the time she was little just in and out of the hospital with different sicknesses and she was always smiling,” Tonya Lee said. “Extremely proud and I could take some lessons from my little sister. She is very confident.”

But Trinica Lee’s fighting spirit is facing its toughest test to date. Last fall she fell seriously ill and was rushed to the hospital.

“I was very sick to the point that my heart was only functioning at 25%,” she said.

Sepsis was coursing through her body.

She was near death and doctors said there was only one option.

“All four limbs had to be amputated,” Lee said. “It was either that or my life.”

Trinica Lee awoke to her new reality. Gone were the fingers on which she relied so much.

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“This is exactly what I said to myself. ‘What am I going to do now? How am I going to live the life that I want to live,’” she said.

She has asked ‘why me?’ but in true Trinica Lee fashion, she chose not to wilt.

“That crossed my mind many times. Many times. But I also asked myself, ‘why not me because if anybody that is strong enough that can handle this it is me,” she said.

“I see people fold for people with much less. I see people give up with much less,” big sister Tonya said.

After nearly three months in a hospital and rehab, Trinica has returned home and is learning how to navigate life as a quadruple amputee.

“Been there done that,” Trinica Lee said. “I just feel like I’m going through that again.”

With the help of family and aides, she still lives independently.

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“She is a different kind of person,” Tonya Lee said. “She is a different kind of strong. She can get through it. She is going to get through this.”

Trinica Lee also relies on her faith and her collection of angels.

“They give me security and they give me peace and they also give me hope,” she said.

Trinica Lee’s future includes writing her memoir and touring the country as a motivational speaker.

“I’m not going to change because something else happened. I am actually going to get better,” Trinica Lee said.

She is a small-town woman with big plans and an even larger message.

“Whatever I’ve gone through, I’ve always snapped out of it and my smile kept on being there,” she said.

Trinica Lee is proving you can conquer anything life serves you. No feet. No hands. No problem.

“Nobody ever handed me anything to me my whole life so there is no point starting now,” she said.

If you would like to help Trinica with her expenses and help defer the cost of new prosthetics, click here.

Like powerful stories? Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Fridays for Greg McQuade’s “I Have A Story” reports. If you know of someone Greg should feature, email him at gmcquade@wtvr.com



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