Florida woman lucky to be alive after flesh-eating infection nearly killed her

RUSKIN, Fla.-- For most of her life, Tracy Penaloza has been a strong, active woman with a big heart for others.

Now, she's just happy to still be here.

"Piece by piece I got amputated off," she said.

Her right leg, her foot, and her right breast were all amputated after she became infected with necrotizing fasciitis, or as the CDC calls it, a flesh-eating bacteria.

"It's been really hard. It's been really hard to see her have to go through this situation," said her friend Joie Preece.

Tracy somehow got exposed to it two years ago, and she made one mistake. "Betty and I went across the street to eat some French fries. I didn't wash my hands, always wash your hands. And within 24 hours, I was on life support, I didn't know who nobody was," she remembered.

"Eating the French fries without washing her hands boom, caught that disease," said her husband Richard.

Soon, Tracy was in a coma. Doctors thought she wouldn't make it, but she shockingly pulled through.

The CDC says this disease is extremely rare and cases appear randomly. 

Those with a healthy, strong immune system shouldn't be concerned. But experts say the best way to avoid this bacteria is to properly care for any wounds and practice good hygiene.

'Always wash your hands, always, always wash your hands, be a germaphobe," Tracy said.

Penaloza's friends will soon be trying to start a fund-raiser to buy her a handicap-friendly vehicle.