Former Baylor athlete opens up about battle with Lyme disease

By Alexandra Laurence | Broadcast Reporter

“So they told me that in order to keep myself healthy for the rest of my life and to keep my heart healthy that I needed to step away from any strenuous activities and playing collegiate volleyball is very strenuous, so May of 2021 is when I decided that I needed to step away,” former Baylor volleyball outside hitter Campbell Bowden said.

It was a tough decision in May 2021, but Mayo Clinic Doctors were thinking long term. Bowden had contracted Lyme disease, probably on a Baylor team retreat, she supposes.

“I actually got baptized in this swamp water and I had to go through a tall grass area to get to it,” Bowden said.

Bowden added she thinks that is where she got bit because she started showing symptoms less than a week after.

“It is kind of ironic that I got baptized but also got Lyme disease,” Bowden said.

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through a tick bite and typical symptoms include rashes, fevers, fatigue and headaches, but in Campbell’s extreme case, some may experience neurological complications, severe joint pain, stiffness, facial palsy, and numbness. Lyme disease can be treated by antibiotics or last over the course of years. The CDC estimates that about 476,000 Americans each year are diagnosed and treated for the disease.

“It was really tough about the month after just because I didn’t know what to do,” Bowden said. “I was lost, I felt angry. But, it was so cool to see the community around me and my peers and my friends and family to just remind me that volleyball was just something I did and not who I was.”

She gave credit to the Baylor family for loving, supporting and encouraging her in this new chapter and transition from being an athlete to just a student.

Campbell is now turning her attention to a new journey she is excited about. She started writing a blog and is doing a podcast about her struggles called “I Say Rejoice.” Bowden’s mission is to tell her story to others in case there are people out there who are experiencing a similar difficult season in their life. She encourages others by preaching that “You can truly rejoice in the sufferings, and rejoicing doesn’t always have to mean that you are in a happy time of your life.”

Campbell advocates that even when your life plan changes, there is still something to delight in. You can listen to “I Say Rejoice” via Spotify and apple podcast, or read her blog.