After experiencing months of unusual symptoms like blood in his stool, 21-year-old Kyle Branch of Hillsboro came home from college in March and realized he needed to go to a doctor to get it checked out.
His doctor recommended a colonoscopy. Branch went into the test thinking he might have colitis. He instead learned the doctor found a large tumor inside his colon with possible spots on his liver and lymph nodes. He was told he had stage 3 colorectal cancer.
After the diagnosis, everything began to move quickly, Branch said. With the tumor too large to remove surgically, he had a port installed for chemotherapy and began his cancer treatment.
Now, after five rounds of chemotherapy, Branch's doctors are seeing progress, and the tumor is shrinking. After 12 cycles of chemo are complete, Branch will receive radiation treatment.
Despite all the time-consuming doctor appointments, Branch is continuing with his education by taking classes online, and he hopes to be back at Radford University full-time next spring.
Meanwhile, the western Loudoun community has jumped into action to help the Branch family.
Branch is the oldest of three boys and a 2016 graduate of Woodgrove High School. Since the diagnosis, his brother's lacrosse team at Woodgrove has been selling Team Kyle T-shirts. There have already been fundraisers at Bear Chase Brewery and Coach's Corner, and another one is scheduled for Top Golf on June 30.
Elise Chapman, the mother of one of Branch's best friends, said he has been like a third child to her.
“Kyle is one of those kids that goes out of his way to do something for others. He has paid for his brothers to play sports and is always looking out for them. He is the first one to help with whatever needs to be done,” Chapman said.
Chapman and another friend, Lauri Kopack, helped organize the June 23 event at Coach's Corner restaurant in Purcellville.
Restaurant owner Rob Burton donated a portion of sales to assist with Branch's medical bills.
“The community has been fantastic. Everywhere we go people are donating items ... We are doing this to help Kyle cover treatment expenses and buy a vehicle to get to his appointments because he sold his car before he went to college,” Chapman said.
Burton told the Times-Mirror it is great the community is so willing to help the Branch family during this trying time.
“We are just a small town looking out for one of our own,” he said.
For more information, visit gofundme.com/prayers-for-kyle-branch.