HOUSTON -- There were signs something wasn't quite right even before Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.
He was in good shape, but still out of breath lately. He'd fight through what seemed like a bug to finish practices, because that's just who he is.
"He ... just felt a little under the weather for about a week, just like anybody else does," Texans center Chris Myers said. "They try to take some over-the-counter stuff. But when it got to be where he obviously knew something was going on, that’s when everyone jumped into action, which we’re real grateful for."
Last Tuesday, June 3, after Quessenberry felt faint, the Texans trainers examined him and got him to doctors. Fluid had built up in his lungs, a scary diagnosis followed and chemotherapy treatments followed that.
"It just hit me like a ton of bricks," Texans left tackle Duane Brown said. "I’m considered to be an older guy around here and that’s like one of my little brothers. To get that kind of text message from a 23-year-old, it’s tough. It’s tough."
Brown was one of the first of Quessenberry's teammates to hear. He was alarmed Quessenberry had spent last Tuesday night in the hospital and sent him a text message for an update. The response was even more alarming.
Word spread among the linemen and then to the other players during a team meeting led by Texans coach Bill O'Brien. It was a reminder that the same demons that can ravage a person's body aren't repulsed from a professional athlete's. That football might seem at times like what matters most, but it doesn't.
"I know everyone’s heart dropped," receiver Alec Lemon said. "Some knew before but when we all heard at the same time, it was kind of just looking around like this is just out of nowhere and it’s sad and it’s awful but, like I was telling everybody, Quessenberry’s a strong guy and he’s definitely going to fight through it."
Brown visited last Wednesday. Other teammates and coaches have visited in a steady stream of a massive support group. Quessenberry's parents are now with him, too.
When they got there they saw that a rare form of a frightening disease hadn't changed his sunny outlook on life. It hadn't dampened the guy who loved the violence and physicality of football, and had worked to recover from a broken foot that landed him on injured reserve for his entire rookie season.
"When I got to see him, he was fine," Brown said. "He was fine. He said he was going to be OK and that’s all I needed to hear."
All along his message for them has been simple:
Don't feel sorry for me. I will beat this.