For David Quassenberry lately, some days are admittedly a bit better than others.
But on the good days, like the one Quassenberry said he had this weekend, the Houston Texans offensive tackle likes to take full advantage: working out, watching film, enjoying his usual routine.
“I’m getting a little sweat in, getting my blood pumping, getting my lungs working,” he said in a conference call this weekend.
“I’m feeling good.”
For Quassenberry, who was diagnosed last month with Non-Hodgkin T Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a form of cancer that impacts white blood cells that defend the body against infection, it’s a good sign, and a big step.
The 23-year-old has been through three rounds of chemotherapy already, he said, and the process has left him in a state of neutrophenia, the medical term for having a white blood cell count near zero. Quassenberry said he’s awaiting his next chemo treatment in San Diego, where he’s had all of them so far as part of a research trial that can only be administered at the MD Anderson Cancer Center there. Quassenberry said he will undergo rounds 5 through 10 in back in Houston.
But his progress is encouraging, and Quassenberry said the support of his teammates, who have already dedicated their 2014 NFL season to him, is a big reason for the strides he’s made.
“First of all, I’m speechless about my teammates,” he said.
“I think it is a testament to the organization that the Texans are. I mean not just the teammates, but we’re talking from the top to the bottom, inside and out. I’m so blessed to be a part of such a tremendous organization.
Among the ways the Texans have shown their support is the “DQ Strong” initiative, taken up in Quassenberry’s honor. Spearheaded by All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown and Pro Bowl center Chris Myers, it seeks to raise money and awareness through the sale of specially printed tee-shirts and Twitter hashtags, such as #TexansforDQ and #DQStrong.
It’s helped lift his spirits, Quassenberry said, and get him to the place he is now. That included, he said, catching up on some film study and even making some bold preseason predictions.
“I see a lot of freaking awesome things, man,” he said. “The offense, they’re going to score a lot of points this year. The defense is going to be really fun to watch. I mean, all across the board you’ve got competition.”
Quassenberry said he’s been keeping an even closer eye on his fellow offensive linemen — half so he cheer them on, half so he can learn first-year head coach Bill O’Brien’s new system.
“You know, the o-line is doing great,” he said. “Everyone is fighting their but off, everyone is competing, everyone is getting this new offense clicking.
“Obviously, you’re going to have some ups and downs, but just for me personally, it is great for me to learn because I am still learning this offense to. So I get to watch them, and I always like watching my boys get after it on the field.”
“It is something for me to do to keep me busy and to keep me motivated during a time where I’m kind of just sitting around thinking. It keeps my mind working on football.”
Quassenberry, a 2013 sixth-round pick out of San Jose State, spent his rookie season on injured reserve after breaking his foot in practice. This season, he’s been placed on the non-football injury list.
Trivialities, in the grander scheme.
For now, Quassenberry is focused on a new set of goals, including getting healthy enough and raising his white blood cell counts enough that he can safely attend the Texans regular season opener on Sept. 7 against Washington.
“Absolutely, absolutely, that’s something that I would really, really like to be a part of,” he said.
“Being at that game is a goal of mine and I think I’m going to be able to make it happen.”
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