LEXIE CASTILLOW

Volleyball has had one of the biggest impacts on my life. I believe God has given me a testimony/story worth sharing among athletes, coaches, and fans. Growing up, I was big into softball, going to tournaments every weekend. At the age of 10, I was running bases in practice one day and my knee started to give out and become quite swollen. My parents took me to Arkansas Children's Hospital, and the next week I was having surgery on my right patella for a giant cell tumor of the bone. The bone surgeon would take out the tumor leaving 10% of my original patella and bone graft the rest. After some physical therapy, I went back to playing softball and at the age of 11 started playing volleyball as well. I have always been an athletic individual and my first year playing JO volleyball at Fort Smith Juniors; I was able to make the number one team. However, during my first season of play my kneecap was starting to hurt again and knots were forming. At the age of 12, my doctors took me into surgery again believing that bone graft had grown the wrong way and was going to perform a clean up surgery to shave down the bumps. Once they had opened my knee up they realized this was not the case. The tumor had come back and completely destroyed my right patella. The only option at this point was to take out my right patella with the tumor and bring down my tendons and tie them back together. There was nothing to attach a fake knee cap to either. When I woke up from surgery, I was told my sports career was over and that I would never have a collegiate career. This did not sit well with me at all because sports were such a big part of my life, especially volleyball. At this point I had to completely learn how to walk and bend my leg again. I do not want this to defy my life either and sports were a big part of that. So with the help of a special ACL brace,months of recovery, and figuring out how to maneuver again I went back to playing sports. It was not something easy at all having to learn to run, walk, and move again, but by God's grace he wanted me to play again. My story does not end here. It was a 2% chance that the tumor would metastasize to my lungs. No one thought it would happen, but I was a part of that 2%. At the age of 13, I had 1/3 of my right lung removed and an upper mass on my left. There were many little tumors throughout my lungs that doctors could not take out so I began chemo treatments on a medicine never even tested for my condition. I was the guinea pig because my condition was so rare.  While playing volleyball (and softball) I would take chemo treatments from my 8th grade to senior year of high school. As of right now, the tumors are believed to be calcified and not hurting anything. Throughout my whole journey I could have not continued to play volleyball without family, friends, & lots of prayer.. I especially defied all odds when I became a collegiate volleyball player. My freshman year I played at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. I accumulated over 200 digs and led the team in aces. As a sophomore I transferred to Ouachita Baptist University. Here, I lead the GAC with 5.32 digs and was a second team all conference player. My junior season is still to be determined with the current pandemic. 


I could go on and on about my story, but here it is in a nutshell.