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Joshua Casteel (In Memory) bio picture
  • "If I am bound to the belief that God is in control of the cosmos, and miracles can and do happen, then there is no 'hypothetical situation' wherein God's ability to perform miracles through the faithful actions of the merciful ceases to be a possibility."

    Joshua's above words continue to resonate with us, his family, friends and acquaintances seeking to live out that same belief. Though he is no longer with us bodily, we strive to faithfully remember and testify to Joshua's witness among us, through the establishment of The Joshua Casteel Foundation and other initiatives on which we will continue to provide update through this website. Thank you for joining us.

    "The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest." (Wisdom 4:7)

    Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), which ultimately took his life on August 25, 2012 at the age of 32. The many of us who survive and love him will continue to pursue the heavenly justice to which Joshua (in life, and now in death) testified.

Prayer for pain relief…

I just wanted to ask everyone to keep Joshua in your thoughts and prayers right now because his hip, leg and lower back pain have gotten pretty bad. For the first time in quite awhile we’re back on the pain med Dilaudid. And today the DR. encouraged him to go up on the dosage so he can get some relief. Tomorrow is his last day of radiation and it continues to work for about 10 additional days.  So we’re hoping he’ll find some additional relief during those 10 days.

A few days ago we realized that his bed was starting to lean to the right (the side of his back that hurts) from being in it so much, so we turned the mattress. The next day it seemed his back had improved some. So we were encouraged. Then that evening he went to a new massage therapist, because his regular therapist was sick this week, and instead of putting a pillow under him to support his lower back she put a rolled up towel. It was very uncomfortable but he toughed it out only to feel terrible afterwards and then this morning. (I’m not sure why he didn’t just stop the massage but he didn’t and unfortunately paid a big price). It has to be so discouraging for him at times to have so much pain and be able to do so little without hurting. Hence, the Dr’s suggestion to up his pain meds. That always makes us nervous, so I’m praying he won’t have to do that for long…just long enough to get his muscles settled down around the radiated spot. Using a cane also increases the tension on his muscles on his right side. We’re all praying he will improve greatly in the next 3 weeks as we are planning our yearly trip to the North Shore of Minnesota, his favorite place and not only do we want him to be able to go, but to enjoy himself without having to deal with so much pain.

So thanks, just wanted you all to know how he’s doing and what to pray for. We think of you all so often, and wish it was easier to see you…you are all spread all around the country. But we’re very thankful just knowing you’re out there and with us in spirit.

Love to you all,
Kristi and Joshua

PS. Thanks for the “Juice for Joshua” party, Michael. The creativity never ceases to amaze us and it was very thoughtful. I’m glad you could have fun doing it as well.

April 28, 2012 - 5:01 AM

Julianne - Hi Joshua & Kristi, I just wanted to say that I am still out here, reading every single update. I am praying for you tonight Joshua, for pain relief and that you will be granted the gift of visiting the North Shore with your family, in JESUS’ name. I trust that God’s grace will keep surrounding and covering you both every moment of every day, just as His banner of Love does. I am so sorry for the struggle but always remember that you are never alone! You are so loved and surrounded by a company of those of who love you, seen and unseen.
Lotsa Love, Juli

Unmentioned Request & Pulmonologist Report

Just a quick report (really) because I have to get up early for an appt. in Ia. City tomorrow.  Today was a day of appointments…massage for Joshua which was great.  Really helped his aching bod…she let up on the pressure and he said he felt better after this one than any of the previous ones.  Then to radiation and then off to the Pulmonologist.  One new concern and two areas of good news.

First, Joshua’s heart is racing (about 100) and so he wants to get an echo cardiogram just to make sure things are ok.  Joshua wasn’t too keen on another major organ potentially having problems, but he’s choosing not to worry about it unless they find something.  Personally, I think it could be medication caused…he’s on so much.

The good news is that the spots they were following on my lungs seem to be just that…spots that the Dr. is not too worried about.  I’ll have a 3 month re-check but he doesn’t  expect there to be a problem.  Praise God…that would not have been welcomed news any way you look at it.  I also have to see a cardiologist as I am having heart palpitations now and then, but I’m thinking God is just giving me sympathy pains, so Joshua doesn’t feel so alone.  🙂  It is funny that our ailments at the moment seem to be in the same areas, minus cancer for me, of course.  But it does help me understand to some degree how he feels having all these medical issues, the questions, the waiting for answers etc.  And he’s not the only one constantly at the Drs. office.

The second piece of good news is that when Joshua mentioned to Dr. Cowden about the service related case he’s trying to complete with the VA right now, he jumped in to Joshua’s defense and said he did not want him out there alone trying to fight the government/military battle.  And that while they are asking Joshua to ‘prove’ that his illness goes back to 2004, the Dr. said what he needs is his team of Drs. to write a professional report stating that while they, of course, could not prove the burn pits were the only direct cause, they could in fact say that they were definitively a part of the cause which played together with other factors (unknown) to cause this type of cancer in someone so young.  He was SO supportive and encouraging and it felt so good to have someone with some authority step in to his defense and offer any and all help that he could.  What a relief and a blessing.  He suggested we just skip all the detailed questions and say refer to Dr. report.  What a relief!  One less lengthy report to be filled out.  Please pray for this report to have a good reception.  So far God has gone ahead of us in so many ways and cleared the path for us and this would be such a blessing and a help to Joshua as he doesn’t know what his future holds as far as income goes. And of course, he sees it as a chance to speak to the problem…especially concerning the Iraqi’s who must also be suffering from the same medical problems.  Who knows what God may have in mind with this issue for him.

As far as the request…it’s very hard for me to ask for ‘anything else’ because we have received so much already from so many.  But, this is a project that we can just not do on our own and it involves someone elses’ facility that they are graciously letting us borrow to store all of Joshua’s things in.  We have to get his things moved, especially his books…which account for most of the boxes over there.  There are probably 75 boxes or more just of his books.  And with the rain, there is a good chance of mold setting in and she has to run a dehumidifier for us which is not cheap.  We plan to go through them some day when we ever get the time, but for now I think we need to just put them down in my basement.  She has a forklift to put them in Joshua’s truck (we’ve picked up one load already and Mark, Rebekah’s husband unloaded them for us when they were home and they’re sitting in my office.  He has SO much stuff.  We will get rid of all his clothes as they are all way too big for him now and he doesn’t want to get back to that weight again anyways.  But all of this takes lifting and stacking and going through.  We mainly need help moving the books right now and if there is anyone who we haven’t already tapped out who offered to help but we didn’t know what we needed at the time, we’d really appreciate it.  We could do it on a Sat. or anytime that suited whomever can help.  I just feel very badly keeping my friends’ warehouse tied up and having to use and pay for the dehumidifier.  She’s been very gracious about it all, but I know she needs it out soon.  So just e’mail, call, or text us if you think you could help with this project.  It’s one of those that looks like David’s Goliath…so much bigger than we’re able to accomplish on our own.  Everyone has been so wonderful to us, it really is hard to ask for one more thing, but this is an urgent need that I’m just not finding an answer to.  (Naomi and Travis are getting their house ready to move and are tied up).

Thanks everyone, and Joseph, tell Augie to keep those prayers coming…”out of the mouth of babes”…I have great faith in his sweet ,innocent, and pure prayers.  And Roger, that is so great about Joshua’s talk.  We pray God will bless it everywhere it goes.  Thanks so much for your caring involvement.  We are still hearing from people from the Awards Banquet.  What an encouragement!

Again, Love to you all…we are so grateful!!

Joshua and Kristi

May 1, 2012 - 2:30 PM

Jim Forest - Just to let you know, Josh, that the prayers for you from our corner of Holland continue. I recall how the prayers of others put wind in my sails when I was awaiting a kidney transplant during those two years of dialysis. One of the good things about being sick was that I did a lot more reading. Do you have the energy to read?

Belated Update…Appointments galore/New hurdles

We’re sorry it’s been awhile since the last update, but with the addition of radiation everyday and then the usual physical therapy, massage, Dr. appts. both in CR and Ia. City VA, along with the usual duties of juicing, trying to find time to catch some short naps, fixing meals, and food shopping to name a few we stay rather busy. But then, you already know that, I’m sure. But we do feel bad when we can’t get to the computer to keep everyone updated though.

Radiation is going well, but I have to say that there are new ‘physical pains’ entering into the picture all the time. Tonight he started aching all over, not just his hip and legs, and we’re not sure what to attribute that to…rehab, the radiation, lack of sleep last night. He was getting more jerking which would wake him up. This is supposed to be from the meds he’s on. It’s always a guessing game as to what is going on, even for the doctors it seems. This is all wearing on him and making it hard to keep holding on to the sense that we both had from the beginning that God has clear intentions to bring him through this in a fashion where he can still work and move forward on his plans and dreams. The climb feels very long right now, but I know this is normal for long physical battles. There are times of discouragement and we have to hang on and wait for God to pull us through those times. So please pray for him.  We have men’s group from church (the one Rick started which makes it even more special to Joshua) and that is a real encouragement to him every week.

And we have so much to be thankful for. Friends are handling mowing our yard…yea!! And have been helping on other outside projects, helping to fix my riding mower, trimming back my flower beds which were in dire need etc. (thanks LD and Dave Coates…such selflessness) Cards and gifts have continued to come in which totally amazes us. Many of you are sticking with us on this journey and it is such a lifeline for us to keep going, especially in times of discouragement. Joshua would like to answer each card, text, letter, etc. but he just doesn’t have the time nor the emotional energy right now with the level of pain he is still in. Fighting the cancer takes most everything he’s got in him. So please know that we still pray for you at night and thank God for your participation in our lives and pray His blessing on you all.

Oh, he ordered a real cane on line, so the putter will be a thing of the past soon. I still think it made a cool cane, but it bowed some and he didn’t feel it was the safest. He will probably be using a cane for some time to come until his hip heals. Sometimes I look at his new thin stature, walking with a cane and think about all the working out he loved doing, walking all over Chicago, playing an occasional soccer game etc. and I feel so bad for him. And then I have to bring myself back to what is…reality as we know it now and remind myself that God knows what He is doing in his life and it is for ‘good’, better than if he had all those things back in his life right now. The day may come, but for now He is doing something far more important…obviously, and that is what is true. I feel myself doing better in accepting where we are, not quite as anxious, and able to take full advantage of being able to ‘serve’ him while I can. I want no regrets, and I realize this is all as much for me as for him. I’ve had 2 sessions with a therapist who is doing a technique called EMDR that I believe is helping with the anxiety. Or at least I can see that it may have a good potential of doing so. So I am thankful I was told about her.

Well, I think that is about it. It was great to hear from one of his students. (Thanks Maddison) It’s nice to be missed. He definitely misses being there with all of you as well.

Blessings to all,
Kristi and Joshua

PS. Thanks again to Hannah, Erin, Katie, Bobby, Mary Ann, Kim and anyone else who worked on fundraisers. They were fun and a huge success.

April 19, 2012 - 8:02 AM

Rodger Routh - Glad to hear your working on self care Kristi.
I think of Joshua daily and am sending prayers your way. The talk you gave in Ankeny as you recieved the Dingman Peace Award is being shown to all students in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines grades 7 thru 12. Bishop Pate who came to listen to you Joshua sent an email out encouraging this! Your wisdom continues to spread. Blessings to you my friend.

April 19, 2012 - 3:04 PM

Chad - Thanks for the update. Our prayers continue.

Rodger Routh, that is amazing, and very encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

April 19, 2012 - 8:39 PM

Joseph - Thanks, Kristi, for the update. I really appreciate it. Our prayers continue to flow from Princeton too. Augie did one of his “healing prayers” for Joshua tonight before bed (the one where he puts his hands out and fervently blows air out of his mouth). 🙂 Love from our family to yours.

An unexpected Answer

A new update just to let you know what we found out about Joshua’s hip problem. Rehabilitation didn’t want to deal with it since they didn’t order the MRI so they referred it back to our oncologist who then sent the scans over to the radiologist. They decided that they have to go by the pain he’s having rather than just the scan to tell them that it is probably the cancer lesion that has been there on his hip from the beginning that is causing the pain. So, radiation of the spot is probably the best and only choice to deal with the pain. We had the consultation today and he will have his first treatment tomorrow. Please pray that this radiation goes as well as the first session on his spine. He had very few complications and it seemed to take care of the present cancer and much of the pain. He’s looking forward to pain relief in a big way.

He’ll have 14 treatments, taking it a little slower to cut down the chances of collateral damage in the area. They are very concerned that he doesn’t fracture that hip (he’d have to have a pin put in to repair it because of the location). And he’d be laid up for several weeks…not a good situation. So he is on a very limited activity restriction…only walking. We laughed when he said no running or weight lifting, as if he could even if he wanted to with the level of pain. The downside to all of this is that he won’t be able to finish out his semester of teaching in Chicago. He goes for radiation every day for almost three weeks. That was a real disappointment to say the least. But at least he was able to complete half of the semester. There’s a chance he’ll be able to make it to the last class, but that’s slim. It was a real gift to have that opportunity while it lasted.

So, he’s on hydrocortisone now that is slowly waking up his adrenal glands so he can stay awake for more than 15minutes a day and he will slowly wean off that most likely. And we’re working on the existing pain, so we’re making progress. Without his class, and having a little more energy, maybe he’ll  finally be able to read more or write since he will be spending a good amount of time in bed. Pray for this next portion of his healing experience, that God will make it fruitful for him. And maybe even a short time of being beside still waters, (with no new dilemma popping up on the scene). He’s such a good example of accepting what God puts in front of him for His  purpose in his life. I’d just love to see him find a little equilibrium for awhile so he can plan for some times of real enjoyment…maybe even attending a sporting event or something he hasn’t been able to even consider since his diagnosis. We’re scheduled to go to the No. Shore at the end of May which would fit that bill, so please pray that he will still be able to make that with the radiation and its after effects.

Jered, if you read these updates thank you, thank you, thank you, for your love and generosity. How much that meant to Joshua. We love and miss all of your family.

And there are many other thank you’s we just can’t answer personally because of time constraints, but we hope you do know that no thought, gift, card, gesture, help, or prayer goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

With love to you all,
Kristi and Joshua

PS.  I hope you get a chance to see the videos and pictures of all the men (and 4yr. olds) standing with Joshua as part of “Team Joshua”…the pre-requisite having a shaved head like his.  He loves it and what a morale booster.  Thanks guys!

April 15, 2012 - 9:18 PM

mary ann - …i miss you two so much…please know, i am not off having a good time…just trying to get by…love, love, love!

April 17, 2012 - 9:45 PM

Maddison - Hi Joshua and Kristi. I just wanted to leave you a note of encouragement. Joshua, we have missed you in class! We’re getting by, but it just isn’t the same without you (small potatoes and pops are hopelessly mixed together and there are no thought provoking notes on the board!) and we all wish you were closer so we could just come to you 🙂

I’m praying for healing, for peaceful rest, for effective treatments and for uplifted spirits. My small group at church is praying for you both as well. God’s plan is a great one, even during these rough spots; trust in that. Rest well this week and be blessed. A big Go Team Josh from Columbia and your workshop class!

April 20, 2012 - 8:32 AM

Cheryl Weaver - I work in the home medical equipment and services industry. When you said Josh ordered the cane on line it made me think you may not be taking full advantage of Josh’s VA benefits. If Josh needs additional medical equipment or services I encourage you to see if there is insurance coverage available. Do you know if a case manager with insurance is involved with his case? This can be of help. If I can ever be of assistance for advise in this area please feel free to call me at 1-800-482-1993 x 6561.
Cheryl Weaver
Asst. VP HOMELINK Customer Service

April 22, 2012 - 2:53 PM

admin - Cheryl,
Thanks so much for your concern and interest in the situation of Joshua’s cane. Yes, he is eligible for a cane from the VA but they are pretty rudimentary as you can imagine for necessity sake, I’m sure. Since there’s a ‘little’ difficulty emotionally (he’s never voiced it, but I can tell), having to use a cane, I didn’t say anything when he went on line to look for one. The one he got has a couple of functions actually and it has a leather like grip which he liked a lot for safety sake. So much has been taken away from him with this illness, including much of his physical youth, and there is so little he can actually do, that I thought buying something that has some interesting features to it might bring a little enjoyment into his life right now. (he does have his Dad’s love of gadgets…like most men, I’m sure). But we can check with our insurance to see if it has to be purchased from a medical source in order to be covered. So thanks for the suggestion. We do have a caseworker for both insurances as well. I really appreciate your taking the time to check in with us, however. Thanks so much.

April 22, 2012 - 3:09 PM

admin - Sorry Joseph,
I forgot that the sight was set up by you? Is that why your name appears on the reply? I’ll let Cheryl know it was from me. I should put my name on everything or figure out out to get mine on there. Just another computer skill I have yet to learn. And not sure how this one is going to come up…probably the same. Never ending!!

But while we’re conversing…how is everyone? Hope things are going well for all of you. What are the latest cute and funny antics from Augi? Is that how you spell it? And concerning the cane, I liked the putter he was using. It was kind of cool and everyone always commented on it, but he said it was starting to bow and become unsafe. Oh well, good idea while it lasted. 🙂 Give our love to Nora and the kids.