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First of many…

I have been writing this since the moment of my diagnosis. I have been unwriting it for just as long. The morning before I suffered the seizure that fractured my spine it began, “I still have cancer.” Four nights ago it began, “I’m wearing on my fingers seventeen bandages.” Tonight I’ll start with someone else’s words, the findings of my most recent PET-CT scan:

“Previously noted abnormal foci of glucose metabolism in the C2, T1, T7, T9 and T12 vertebral bodies are no longer evident…metastatic bone lesions in the cervical and thoracic spine appear to have healed.”
My spine is cancer free. (Read this sentence again.)

I have had cancer in my lung, spine, hip, liver, and adrenal glands. I now have cancer in the upper lobe of my right lung alone. And this cancer is all of one-third the size it was in December, which was by then already significantly reduced in size from the time of my original diagnosis the month before.

I still have cancer. And I am currently wearing ten of the twenty or so daily bandages that provide a modicum of comfort to the sores on my fingertips which my cancer medication daily renews. But let me be clear: I am healing. I am healing and I am healing because of the prayers and material support I have received. Were it not for the financial assistance my family has received these past three months, we would not have been able to sustain the financial commitment my specialized diet continues to demand. But of even greater importance and significance, the vulnerability of my circumstance, my genuine dependence upon others, has given me the opportunity not only to be witness to but to be the recipient of a goodness as simple as it is gratuitous. To each of you I am only one person, but to me you are collectively coming to my aid simultaneously, which is all but overwhelming to comprehend. Quite honestly, these past three months of illness have been among the happiest and most transformative of my life.

Since returning from Iraq I have suffered from a cynicism touching every part of my life. Seeing the degree to which so many have shown their desire to sacrifice on behalf of another (namely, on my behalf) has made it quite nearly impossible to sustain this cynicism. I have been given back a hope I remember from childhood, but which has been chastened by suffering and baptized by the voluntarity of love. And I am a happier man, happier by far than the man who existed prior to the diagnosis of early November. As with all resurrections, first had to come a crucifixion. First had to die that other man, and with him the death he had come to know, a death conquered by the love you have extended to me.

Thank you. Thank you, Friends. Thank you, Christ.

I have more to say. And I will do so as the days go on. For now, though, share with me the joy of this moment. My mother felt she was asked by God to pray for the miraculous. The speed of my physical recovery is proving nothing short of this. The depth of my emotional and spiritual recovery is proving much more.

Love,

Joshua

February 28, 2012 - 12:33 AM

CTN - Now that is what I am talking about. We pray for your continued resurrection, in body, mind, and spirit. We rejoice with you and give thanks that God allows us to be some small part of the answers to prayer He could just as easily accomplish on his own.

“O Lord, your compassions never fail and your mercies are new every morning: We give thanks for giving our brother Joshua both relief from pain and hope of health renewed. Continue in him, we pray, the good work you have begun; that he, daily increasing in bodily strength, and rejoicing in your goodness, may so order his life and conduct that he may always think and do those things that please you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

We’re still praying.

February 28, 2012 - 12:40 AM

Kristi Casteel - Mom’s response: “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits”. (Psm. 103)

That includes all of you, your loving and caring and helping and most of all your sharing with us in praying for a Miracle. It certainly appears as if God is well on His way to answering our prayers…yours and ours. Joshua would not be where he is today without all of you. We can never repay or thank you enough, but we do pray that you will experience REAL blessing in your lives because of the love you have poured on us. Four months ago the picture looked very bleak, and the prognosis was about as bad as it gets…terminal, palliative care, no hope for recovery…and yet God is not bound by medical realities…only to His plans and His promises. We know we’re not at the end of the road, but we are greatly encouraged to hang on to the words God made clear from the start. We will trust Him every step of the way and we are SO thankful we have such wonderful companions with us on the journey

“I/we thank our God upon every remembrance of you”. Phil.1:3

February 28, 2012 - 12:49 AM

Mike Schulte - I’m speechless (it doesn’t happen very often) and just want to say this is an amazing witness! God bless you all and keep juicing like the wind! 🙂

February 28, 2012 - 1:18 AM

Holly Sargent - Thank you for being living proof that miracles DO happen! Thank you for allowing so many of us to be a part of the miracle that is you! This is such amazing news… thank God!
*I want to tell you that your journey has provided me with a very real, cut & dried point of reference from which to filter the things that matter from the things that do not deserve a drop of energy or a moment of precious time. We are all vulnerable & must cherish & maximize each moment as we are given no guarantees. I’m sorry to have gained from your struggle, but I have a feeling many others have too… now we all carry more joy in our hearts by witnessing your healing. Thank you Josh! Keep fighting, we are with you every step of the way!

February 28, 2012 - 9:43 AM

Sam Wyman - Praise God!
Let us continue to walk in faith and lift up the amazing Light of the very Living Christ — very present among us through the power of the Holy Spirit this day and always!
I continue to lift you up all day every day and stand in faith with you, Joshua.
What a powerful living witness we are and shall be — you and all your family and friends and those of us — your brothers and sisters — who have never actually met you.
God longs to do for us, in us, and with us so much more than we ask or believe.
Living in the yoke with Christ and letting our Living God carry most of the burden is a Joy and serves as a beacon of Life, Light, Love, and Hope to all we speak with and touch and has a rippling effect throughout the earth that we cannot fully see or appreciate from our tiny corners.
Once again, praise God for the mighty wonders of healing and transformation!!

February 28, 2012 - 10:14 AM

Scott Pietras - Joshua – I am a colleague and friend of your sister, Rebekah, who has shared the blessed news of your turnaround and on going determination to return to full health. You continue to have my prayers as you move on to many joyful days ahead.

God Bless

Scott Pietras

February 28, 2012 - 12:37 PM

Terri - Thank you for sharing this. It has provided me with a comfort that I thought I have not felt since I lost my husband to cancer. There is no rhyme or reason to many things from a human perspective, but from a spiritual view, there is a reason and rhyme to everything. Someday, I will understand, I hope.

February 28, 2012 - 2:47 PM

Karla Goettel - We rejoice for you and your family! I have felt that if anyone can beat this, it is you, Josh. You are loved by so many, you are strong in body and spirit and you are disciplined enough to stick to your diet. You are a gift and a lesson to us all! We continue to send you loving support.
XXOO, Karla and Denny

February 28, 2012 - 5:57 PM

gary weimberg - Ha! I say, Ha!!
Ha hahahahahahaha
take that cancer!

joshua – you continue to astound … me/others/the cancer/the pope.

right on!

omg omg omg
(reduced to acronyms and cliches)
(oh, and now i’m crying …)
god bless you joshua,
but
clearly he/she has
already

cathy and i will toast you with fine wine tonight
(our 33rd anniversary)

much love to you dear friend.
keep on that diet! and what ever else has been working for you

February 28, 2012 - 6:03 PM

Barbara - Yes thanks for blogging Joshua. You are very courageous and I want to thank you for letting us know what is happening. I have someone that I am praying for in my family, and it is a daily struggle, for him and for us too to keep a sort of equilibrium. I especially was touched with what you had to say about cyniciasm. That is something so easy to fall into but so unnecessary. I applaud you and will certainly pray for you. Pray for my brother, Thanks in advance.

February 29, 2012 - 2:57 AM

Hannah - Tears (sobbing) of joy. Well done faithful servants. I love you…all.

February 29, 2012 - 2:58 AM

Hannah - Tears%20(sobbing)%20of%20joy.%20Well%20done%20faithful%20servants.%20I%20love%20you…all.%20%20

February 29, 2012 - 9:42 AM

Michael Rossmann, SJ - Joshua, wow. Just wow. It was so wonderful to read this. Know that there were many arm pumps and prayers of gratitude from my desk chair as I read this. Know that the prayers – and the arm pumps – will continue.

February 29, 2012 - 1:56 PM

olga - I’m so pleased to be able to share. What beautiful writing!!
More later. olga

March 1, 2012 - 7:49 PM

Daniel Ginn - Thanks for letting us share a view from the mountaintop with you. It’s good to be wherever God is at work.

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