Take Charge

Rex Culpepper’s New Playbook

March 29, 2018

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By Sara Bondell

20 days. 100 hours.

That’s what’s on Rex Culpepper’s play clock.

It’s the amount of time the Syracuse quarterback and son of former Florida Gator and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Brad Culpepper will spend getting extensive chemotherapy treatments.

The 20-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer after a spring break trip and hours later was on a plane to Tampa for surgery and treatment.

"When you think cancer, you think Moffitt," Culpepper said.

The diagnosis came as a shock to Culpepper, who exercises daily and thought "cancer was the type of thing that only strikes someone who isn’t leading a healthy lifestyle."

Culpepper was sidelined his senior season at Plant High School after tearing his ACL but says cancer doesn’t compare. "Once that heals, you’re the same person. But once you go through something like this, that sticks with you your entire life."

He says he is lucky his cancer is very treatable and is focusing on positivity, leaning on skills he’s gained on the football field.

"My life has always been a routine,” said Culpepper. "It’s been about getting better every day, so I think that mindset definitely puts me at an advantage with what I am up against."

Rex Culpepper Chemo Cancer
Rex Culpepper receives chemotherapy in the Infusion Center at Moffitt.

He’s still working out as much as he can and plays the piano as an outlet after treatments. But the most important thing is not letting cancer disrupt his entire life, something his physicians, Dr. Wade Sexton and Dr. Mayer Fishman, agree on. He will be alternating chemotherapy cycles at Moffitt and a New York hospital so he can continue his schooling and be around his football teammates as much as possible.

Since sharing his diagnosis on social media, Culpepper says he has gotten support from around the country.

"The amount of people who have reached out to me has been unbelievable," said Culpepper. "There’s just so much to say about how much easier it is to fight through something when you do have so many people reaching out."

And while his eyes won’t be set on the end zone in spring practices, Culpepper has an end date in sight: June 1. It’s his last day of chemotherapy, when time hits zero on his new play clock. The day Culpepper hopes he can call himself a survivor and get back on the field.