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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.

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

A Tribute to and Fundraiser for Joshua in Cedar Rapids

I just wanted to get the word out on Joshua’s site regarding a fundraiser currently being organized on Joshua’s behalf by friends in Cedar Rapids for Saturday, March 24, at 7:30 pm.

Joshua’s friend Bobby Colquhoun will be performing a concert at Washington High Little Theater (2205 Forrest Dr SE, Cedar Rapids, IA). Tickets are $10 and further details can be found on Facebook, where an event page has been set up: http://www.facebook.com/events/315345931856998/

Mary Ann Cullinan Snyder is collecting donations and reserving tickets. Even if you can’t make the show due to geography or conflicts, feel free to “buy” a ticket in support, noting that you will not be in attendance so that seats can still go to those who will be able to attend.

If anyone who attends is able to take and upload any video of the event, that would be an excellent way for all of us to celebrate and support the Casteels. Feel free to post questions as comments below, and thank you all again!

Sincerely,
Chad Nicholson

March 2, 2012 - 6:28 PM

Mary Ann Snyder - Thank you Chad…you are such a good friend to Joshua.

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.