San Jose State University alum-turned-Houston Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry was living out his NFL dreams when he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.
But the 23-year-old's career was put on hold earlier this year after he was diagnosed with lymphoma in June. The team placed him on the Non-Football Illness list.
“I am hanging tough,"Quessenberry said in a recent phone interview. "No one is prepared to get the information I got."
Originally from San Diego, Quessenberry walked on to the San Jose State football team in 2008 and received an athletic scholarship in 2010. During his career as a Spartan he became the first player to be selected to play in the Senior Bowl and chosen for the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list.
He was more than thrilled when he went straight from the South Bay campus to being drafted as an offensive lineman for the Texans.
“The team has welcomed me with open arms. You’re a rookie in the NFL, it is something you have worked for your whole life,” he explained as the emotions of being on the field for the first time.
But, after returning to summer practice, Quessenberry began to feel his stamina weaken and had a cough that would not go away. The Texans' medical staff found fluid in his lungs that led to more testing.
Doctors told Quessenberry he had non-Hodgkins T Lymphoblastic Lymphoma and the odds are in his favor that he'll soon recover and take the field, though he hasn't been told when.
Now he is being treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center - a premier research organization at the University of Texas.
For now, Quessenbery can't play, but he is keeping his spot on the team.
What most people would see as a setback, Quessenberry views as motivation.
— David Quessenberry (@DavidQberry) July 9, 2014
Even though he receives chemotherapy two to three times a week, Quessenberry still manages to fit in workout sessions, lifting weights and running so that he can keep up with his teammmates. He refuses to let the cancer influence his positive attitude. When he's tired from his treatments, he catches up on TV shows with his mom, who flew out from San Diego to help her son as he battles the disease.
“I am working out as much as I can," he said. "The motivation is one day I will be back on the field. I will be stronger through it. Not everyone can get this news and fight this fight.”
— David Quessenberry (@DavidQberry) June 22, 2014
Joe Nigos, a former teammate and roommate of Quessenberry at San Jose, is trying to keep his buddy's spirits strong. He is one of many friends who is rooting for Quessenberry's health to return, both in person and on social media by using the hashtag #dqtrong.
“David has unbelievable support that is helping him get through it,” Nigos said.
Nick Kaspar, another former San Jose State teammate, spoke to Quessenberry recently and believes his friend's mental state will carry him through the physical struggle.
“David is fighting through with high spirits," Kaspar said. "I try to talk to him about other things going on like the waves at the beach because we both like to surf.”
Quessenberry realizes he has "an army behind me, everyone is reaching out,” and he said he feels lucky for the support, because he knows he's not fighting alone.
“I look forward to living a long time with the ones I love," he said, "and playing a long time in the NFL.”
— David Quessenberry (@DavidQberry) June 19, 2014