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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.

New week, new challenges, new blessings!!!

I’ve been contemplating tonight whether to write or wait a few more days, but I decided too many things can change in a short period of time and that will just make my update longer…and we know that happens easy enough 🙂

As I mentioned in my last update, the week of the great announcement was balanced with a few harsh realities about the nature of Joshua’s illness requiring Tarceva for his whole life and his spine potentially never healing to the point where he can get back to a lot of the things he enjoys…working out, playing a game of soccer now and then, hiking with backpacks on his back., goofing around with the grandkids, friends children etc. Just all the things you do when you have a normal 32yr. old healthy back. While it was a blow we have discussed that we really don’t know what God has in mind and we want to be open and willing to accept whatever He decides Joshua needs, to bring about the greatest amount of spiritual, relational, and emotional health which will ultimately enable him to carry out God’s calling on his life, whatever that is. You’ve probably noticed that the above statements carry with them a lot of unknown. And waiting and trusting are going to be the name of the game. Never easy…but what worthwhile ever is?

These are our hopes and desires: That once all the cancer lesions are gone and we’re left with only potential dorrmant cells,, that we can continue in a process to reduce the Tarceva until it’s gone. And then that his very healthy body and interior environment will be a place where cancer cells cannot exist. This has been done by many others, simply by diet, and others with the intitial chemo and then the diet. It would be great if Adenocarcinoma were the type of cancer that goes into remission and a statement of the body being cleared of any cancer at all was a possibility. But it isn’t. However, if we can keep the cancer at bay with his diet or even a combination of diet and a very low dose of Tarceva (one of Dr. Wilbur’s patient has a maintenance dose of 25mg), we would be very happy with a ‘practical healing’. Biut as I mentioned, who knows, God may choose to touch his body in a supernatural way and totally heal him. We would not be opposed…how gracious of us, huh? 🙂 But if God asks him to keep this thorn in the flesh for his benefit, then he wants to be at the place where he is willing to accept what God has for him. Though there are the disappointing and difficult days, that is the nature of his faith…and of all of us as a family, thank heavens, so we can support him no matter what.

So today we both went to see a pulmonologist together…actually for me this time, (I’m sure nice for Joshua for a change) because they saw some new spots on my lungs that were not there 7 yrs. ago when they checked me out and decided I most likely had scar tissue from fungus in an area or infections I previously had and wasn’t aware of. (Just what we needed, huh?) Actually it WAS just what we needed, because this Dr. (Dr. Cowden if anyone in the area is in need of a pulmonologist for any reason) is by far the best Dr. I have ever gone to. I remember that Rick and I had liked him the first time around, but this time reinforced the fact that he should be cloned and put into every specialty there is. He is very professional and thorough but is so in tune to how your specific situation is affecting you emotionally as well, and he addresses it and tries to make you feel as cared for and safe as he possibly can. And he LISTENS and responds to your concerns as if it is actually very important…you know those qualities you hope or most likely wish your doctors had. So, after he gave us his best scenario as to how we should approach things, he also gave a great deal of reassurance that he would be surprised if the changes turn out to be cancer. Rather, he feels we are probably looking at more of the same that we saw and monitored for two years back 7 years ago, coming to the conclusion that what I had was benign. So, we’re going back in 6 weeks to check in again to look at a new scan to compare. He really quenched any fears I may have had and has allowed the kids to take a big sigh of relief. Our imaginations couldn’t even go to that potential possibility!!

But the neat part about Joshua being there with me is that we realized that he should probably have a pulmonologist also, and he is very excited about seeing him as one of his doctors. Yeaaaaah…we’re finally in good hands with both our oncologist and pulmonologist. What a relief…we can relax and trust that they really do know what they are talking about and they have time (even though they are very busy and sometimes rushed as well), to see us as real people who are going through difficult issues and who need not only reassurance but information that is consistent and mutually discussed and agreed upon. It’s sad that it’s quite a novelty to find those qualities in the medical community at large, but we’ve found when you take an active role in your care and are not intimidated to speak up when you have questions or disagreements, you can eventually find the right people or make a difference in the kind of care you’re receiving. So, we see God taking care of us in the very small and the very important ways. And we are thankful.

As for prayer, I mentioned a few things above. One other…Joshua spent weeks on some medication that he’d taken in Chicago and when we first got here that made it very difficult for him to sleep or rest. He was getting up at 5:30am and juicing etc. and going through his days and then getting to bed later than he should, but unable to sleep when he did. Well he is off the meds now and I’m guessing because of the build-up of too little sleep for those weeks, he can barely keep his eyes open now. He’ll fall asleep mid sentence, while he’s on his IPad or telephone, sometimes with his arms still in the air doing whatever it was he was doing. Without trying to nag him ‘too much’, I have been encouraging him to just sleep until he feels he’s caught up…not getting up early (which means he misses mass which he doesn’t like) until he gets through this period. We also thought it might be his body just really working hard to fight the cancer, which I’m sure is part of the picture. It’s actually a little humorous and then becomes a little weird. So, for now he’s trying to catch up. Please pray that he does or we find out what is causing such extreme fatigue that he cannot hold his eyes open if he’s sitting.

He also just started Spiritual Direction with our Priest and he’s excited about that, so the timing is a little inconvenient for the physical exhaustion, but I’m hoping this won’t last long. Pray that his time with Father Dave goes well and he’s able to be consistently well enough to go and actually find the time to complete the exercises that they’ve decided to work on. We’ve got three busy weekends coming up, so he’ll need all the strength he can muster. This weekend friends in the production business are going to come and film him to make some kind of video presentation…not exactly sure about that one. Next weekend is a benefit concert for him. And the following weekend we go to Des Moines where he will receive an award for his work in the peace movement along with a Bishop who will also be honored. That should be nice…pray that his health is good enough for him to go and enjoy the evening.

I so wish we could thank each of you personally for all that you have done and have given to us, but it is virtually impossible. If you’re one of the fortunate few that I have been able to get thank you’s out to consider that another miracle and a special blessing and commendation from God. Joshua reminded me the other day as we were talking about the many financial gifts large and small, how meaningful each one is and our prayer that you will be blessed, that there is a promise in scripture that I taught the kids in song when they were little (so they could remember them easier) that says just that. I’ll close with the song.

“God loves a cheerful giver, give and it will be given unto you
A good measure pressed down shaken together, running over
will be poured in your lap,
For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you
For God loves a cheerful giver!” (Luke 6:38)

You have all given to us with such joy and gladness and generosity,
We pray you’ll receive blessings pressed down, shaken together, and running over into your laps…More than you can hold or imagine.

All our love and gratitude,
Kristi, Joshua and family,

Promised Pics

For some reason I can’t click on these to make them bigger for you, but if they’re hard to see and people want them posted bigger, just leave a comment and I will also post them at a bigger size.

March 6, 2012 - 11:09 PM

Chad - I can’t believe that Joshua allowed the words “Go Packers” to be placed on his website. A clear editorial oversight.

Thanks so much for putting these up here, and looking forward to many more trips to Chicago.

Best,
Chad

March 12, 2012 - 6:58 PM

Mary Ann Snyder - …have i told you guys lately that i love you?…

March 18, 2012 - 7:11 PM

Barb - http://www.aol.com/video/kris-carr-cancer-survivor-author/517262087/?icid=maing-grid7|main5|video-module|sec3_lnk1|144168

Saw this and thought of you guys.

July 19, 2014 - 5:14 AM

moto gp 07 - Thanks to my father who stated to me regarding this webpage, this
webpage is in fact awesome.

Phase 2 of the Climb…

First of all I want to thank all of you who have responded to Joshua with words of encouragement and letting him know that you are still praying for him. Of course that means the world to him. We are all very thankful for the news of the majority of the known cancer lesions to be gone…part two of the miracle (part one was getting out of Chicago alive and getting on the right medicine). The medication, his diet, and prayer I believe is responsible for the unbelievable quick reduction in the cancer.

I also want to thank all of you who continue to give to him to help in the very high costs of maintaining his organic diet and his trips to Chicago. It’s still amazing to me how much we go through in a week. We’re now buying his carrots in 50lb. boxes which really helps. Besides his juicing, he pretty much exists on oatmeal and fruit, rice and quinoi, salmon and vegetables, and his favorite manna bread with flaxseed oil and bananas on top. And it’s all pretty portable and easy to get when we go to Chicago every week. The restaurant where Naomi and I go for dinner while we’re waiting for his class to finish knows his situation and how he needs everything prepared in only lemon juice, and they do a really good job. After 13 weeks we’re going to be very good friends. And he is REALLY enjoying teaching the class. I’m not sure how he’d be doing without that to look forward to each week. They have offered him another one for next fall. He can drive short distances now, but he still has to lay down for longer trips, so not sure where that will stand by then.

This weekend has been hard as he hasn’t felt well…headache,achy, nausea, and diareaha. He’s on new and stronger antibiotics for his fingers (they have been very sore and difficult to deal with). So the Dr. is taking his Tarceva level down from 150mg to 100mg to see if that helps that side effect any. He’s on another antibiotic for the infection in his jaw which she said is not unusual with Tarceva. And they gave him a 2nd round of bone strengthening medicine by iV, so it’s really hard to know where some of these symptoms are coming from. And we have to watch his calcium level closely, because he tends to run low and his bone meds lower calcium. In addition the Dr. had some difficult things to say to him that took him off guard. One was that he has to realize that he has the spine (back) of a 60yr. old in a 32yr. old body, so he won’t be able to lift weights, work out, play any kind of contact sports (including soccer) again. He was under the assumption that his spine would heal and he could get back to those things. That was very difficult to hear. As well as he will have to be on Tarceva for the rest of his life to keep any dormant cancer cells at bay. That’s why they are trying to find a level he can take that is more tolerable in side effects. It’s been a more somber weekend, but his not feeling well surely played into that.

Now all of that is realistic medical diagnosis and we respect that. But we are also wanting to stay open to ‘all’ the healing God was referring to when he so clearly told me that we should pray for a miracle of healing. We recognize there has been a miracle already and we are so thankful for that, but we also want God to give us wisdom and the grace to pray for all that he wants for Joshua. Many have said to us that they believe God is going to restore him to full health. If that is the case, then we want to be open to that and not just accept the medical diagnosis as it stands. How many people have proven their diagnosis wrong and gone far beyond what Doctors expected or imagined. So we’re asking you to keep praying for the next miracle in his life, whatever that may be. He started meeting with our Parish Priest today for spiritual direction, and that was a real lift for him emotionally. He’s really looking forward to that. We’re actually considering taking a week off from his class (he has had professor friends offer to sub for him) if he doesn’t start feeling better. We also thought it could be lack of sleep as he has a hard time sleeping through the night and he’ll oftentimes get up and spend a couple of hours working on his fingers. The fatigue is playing a role in things I think also. He’s felt good for some time now, and him not feeling well and having to be concerned about his calcium level is sending me back a few steps in terms of anxiousness. It’s better, but I just don’t like being alone with him when he’s not feeling well and it’s a guessing game as to what is going on. So please pray for me in that, so I don’t pass on my concern and worry to him. Just pray that his calcium level stays elevated…it was great before they gave him the infusion on Wed. so he’ll probably feel better by tomorrow.

Thanks also to all of you who are working on fund raising ideas for him. We just still are amazed at YOUR fortitude. So often in crises after the main crisis is over things die down and it is very hard to stay involved. But so many of you seem to be in this for the long haul for him and that is not only rare but astounding. God bless you all.

We love you and pray for God’s grace to fill your lives ,
Kristi, Joshua

March 3, 2012 - 11:25 AM

CTN - Thank you so much for the medical details. They might not be the most fun to share, but they go a long way in keeping us connected to this process. We continue to pray for healing and strength, and send all our love.

March 6, 2012 - 2:24 PM

Titus Peachey - Thanks for your regular updates. Wishing you well, Joshua. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. May God give you grace for each day.

The interview we did in San Antonio some years ago which included your story about Abu Ghraib has been posted on YouTube. It just passed 10,000 hits. See:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM8jjqxtSpY

It has hardly gone viral, but it has been an inspiration to many.

Blessings, Titus

March 7, 2012 - 6:57 AM

Michael Le Chevallier - Josh, I am so happy to hear that you are continuing to heal, even as I hold the difficulty of knowing that the medical diagnosis isn’t total healing. This quarter has brought the unexpected fruit of a discipline of prayer, as a group of men gather at my place twice a week to doing the morning hours. You have been a constant feature in our prayers since we started. Today, it will be a prayer of thanksgiving, even as we also continue to pray for your healing.

Announcing: Online Silent Auction

We’re planning an online auction and need your help!  Use your talents – or stuff –  to help raise cash for Joshua! 

Two ways you can participate:

1. Consider contributing to the auction.  Do you paint? Record CDs?  Write poetry?  Walk dogs?  Bake bread? Does the business you work for have a product or service to donate? Do you have gift cards to contribute?  If so, pass these treasures (or talents) along!  To donate, contact Erin Gullickson – egullickson@gmail.com – by March 20th and share:

  • Your name.
  • What you would like to donate.
  • Where it is located.  Donations from anywhere will be accepted, but if shipping is necessary, bidders in the auction will be asked to cover the cost of shipping in addition to the bid, and those donating will be asked to package and ship the item to the winning bidder.  
  • A picture of the item, if applicable.
  • If a business is donating, their web address – if they would like it listed with a link on the online auction site.

Then…

2. Take part in the auction!  Stay tuned for dates and directions.  All proceeds will go directly to the Casteels to help pay for Joshua’s juicing regimen, medical bills, and other costs associated with his care. 
Thanks for your help in making our online auction a success!

– Erin and Hannah