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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.

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.

Chicago: Fundraising

Well, I am not Joshua, but I have been promised that he is working on an update for everyone!  In the meantime I wanted to pass along contact information for Aaron Hughes, fellow IVAW member and Warrior Writer who would like to work on a fundraiser in Chicago. Aaron is interested in organizing some kind of reading or creative event in Chicago to raise funds for Joshua’s health needs. If you are interested in helping or finding out more, please contact Aaron.

Aaron Hughes
Organizing Team Leader
217-898-9083
aarhughes@ivaw.org
www.ivaw.org

Thanks to you all for your continued prayers and support for Joshua and our family – Rebekah (Casteel) Latchis

Short update….then Joshua’s…finally!

Hello to everyone who’s on this journey with us!

If you’re reading this we thank you because that means you’re still on the path and caring by staying in touch. It seems like awhile since I’ve written…so much happens in a week or two. Our weeks seem rather short as we have the first two days filled with travel to and from Chicago, as you know, for Joshua’s class. It is fun, hard work, very rewarding for Joshua, and a great time for the three of us to spend together on a scheduled plan. (If only Rebekah and Mark lived closer). It actually takes all three of us a day to unpack, recoup, and regroup for the rest of the week, but we have no doubts that it’s the right thing to do at this point for his emotional and mental health. So far, no more casualties, and the drives have gone pretty well. Pray they will continue to. Driving always adds a ‘little’ anxiety as Joshua’s spine would not handle even a mild accident well. We’re trusting that God has His angels all around our car there and back. We’ve got the routine down to a science now, so we can zoom in and out without much hassle. We each know our parts. (Joshua’s is to rest or sleep in the back), Naomi’s to drive, and mine to juice and make sure he has all his meds, remembers to take them etc. And then his to teach of course while we grab dinner, and then it’s back to the hotel to sleep and be ready to drive back the next day.

Joshua had his PET scan yesterday, and we’re expecting and praying for a positive report. He’s feeling so much better and is doing so much more. He drives himself short distances now…to mass, to his blood draw, to the store etc. That has given him a whole new feeling of freedom. He gets up very early every morning and has his routine of juicing while listening to some spiritual or interesting intellectual podcast or book he’s downloaded, prays, works on his very soar fingers, and sometimes goes back to bed for a nap but usually not. In Joshua fashion, he is already filling up his life with activities and plans that help him feel like he’s doing something meaningful and beneficial. Besides his usual Dr. appts. , massages, blood draws, etc. he will start meeting with our Parish Priest for spiritual direction. He also is attending Latin Mass a few times a week and hopes to get trained in being and acolyte for those masses, something he has always wanted to do. He’s meeting with Naomi’s husband, Travis, for breakfast on a regular basis, something fun and helpful for both of them and is vowing that he will begin to write a little bit each day…’his’ journal entry being the first on his list. This is all in addition to his juicing routine which takes 3-5 hrs. a day when you count clean-up etc. (he has a very distinct way of doing it all, so I let him handle that on his own unless he’s tired or wants a break). And then our 2-3 shopping trips to the grocery store each week for fresh produce. We’re discussing how much is too much…an ongoing discussion…so he can heal faster. I’m trying to get him to take naps more often or relax and read or watch some sports to get off his feet. He’s a hard guy to keep down, as you probably know, if you know him very well at all. Especially now, since for the most part, he feels so much better.

Believe it or not I’m still working through a lot of his paperwork dealing with his finances and school loans, social security benefits etc. All the things I have had to learn to deal with, but actually dislike immensely…I refrained from saying ‘hate’ so I won’t have such a bad attitude about how long and complicated some of it can get. And we’re still trying to find a place and time to get all of his things from a friends’ warehouse, go through it and find another place to store it where the books will be safe from mildew. He probably has 60 boxes of books alone and many boxes of clothes that no longer fit him. These are all doable activities but finding the time to tackle them is not quite as easy. If my basement was more organized, which was a task I was just about to tackle when all of this happened, we could put things down there, but that has to come first. So, we have our work cut out for us, and to be honest, at this juncture it feels like a mountain to climb over. But we will get there, one step at a time I’m sure, and the important thing is that Joshua is feeling so much better and that he is getting better in actuality. Please continue to pray for ongoing healing. He has a strong sense that he has much more to do before he’s done on this side of heaven and of course Mom and sisters all concur…And we’re believing you are believing and praying to this end as well.

As soon as we hear about the PET scan we will post the news. Depending on the results, we will consider what other potential therapies might be beneficial for him. We just need to know how the Tarceva and the Diet is doing in terms of fighting the cancer first. Also, our good friend has designed T-shirts for Team Joshua so I’m sure Naomi will let you know about that soon.

Not so short (as usual), but that’s hard when it’s been awhile. We love hearing from you,

Love and our prayers to you all,
Kristi and Joshua,

February 25, 2012 - 12:17 AM

Chad - Thanks for the update. Excited to hear the PET scan results and praying like crazy. Much love. – The Nicholsons

Trip #4…And counting (Without Naomi :-(

Just a quick note (really) to let you know we are off to Chicago for the fourth time tomorrow, but without Naomi. Now that means, less fun of course, and Mom driving. So the big Prayer Request is that I will be wide awake and alert. We all know driving long distances is not my strong suit…but if that is what has to be I’m believing God will do yet another miracle and get us there and back safe and sound and without too much suffering. That means sleep, so I am going to cut this short and go to bed. Joshua is doing well and of course really looking forward to his class.

Thanks for your prayers,
Kristi and Joshua

February 29, 2012 - 7:09 PM

sandy chapman - I am so pleased to hear of your progress.I continue to pray for you.He has substantially healed me,and I know that miracles happen.I knew from the start that you were a special one.L pray for your wonderful family,too.God willhold you in his hands.”Have no anxiety about anything,but in everything,but with prayer and thanks giving,make yourpetition known unto God.
Phi. 4:6

Pics from the life of Joshua

This is how Josh rolls!
So, last week was the 3rd week of Joshua’s class, but only the 2nd trip that I’ve been a part of. It was off to a shaky start when, just as were nearing “go” time, I lifted one corner of the air mattress that Josh would be laying on and both Josh and my mom watched as their last hour of work rolled right off the mattress, crashing to the floor of the garage (with their new juicer it takes at least an hour to produce his morning juice). Josh quickly saves the last half glass of juice that had not spilled out yet and we poured it into a small travel mug that he could bring with him. So, after my mom poured water on it to dilute it and swept it out of the garage, we cleaned up the broken glass…THEN we were on our way! We decided we would pray for peace as we traveled…much needed now! So, half way down the road, from the back where Josh is we hear, “Oh my gosh…OH MY GOSH”! We pull over into a gas station and we see that all the rest of his juice just spilled out of the lid of his new cup all over him and his bedding. And this would be the first time paper towels were forgotten! We were going to just keep going but decided that with the addition of his book reading to his already long schedule of teaching he needed to have his juice. So, with the excess hour and a half that we’d saved for the hotel when we arrived, we turned around, went back to the house, and began his “quickie” juicing session. So, about an hour later and an extra trip to hy-vee to get a new “car appropriate” container to bring his juice in, we were finally off to Chicago…FINALLY! And once again we prayed for peace!

Joshua’s reading went great. He looked so handsome, as you’ll see in the picture, and he was really well received. He had books donated by the publishing companies that we sold as a fundraiser and we had the priviledge of talking to some of Joshua’s super amazing friends. He then went right into his class, my mom and I walked to our usual dining spot, ate, chatted, took phone calls, started a small table fire, contained it and then went back to pick him up! That night in the hotel, while we sat bundled in sweatshirts and blankets because the room wouldn’t warm up, I went into the bathroom to start hot shower water so we could take turns sitting in a warm room. It was really rather funny! After waiting for the water to turn hot and my fingers now being icicles we decided it was time for a maintenance intervention…or a room change! That’s when we met one of the nicest maintenance workers (other than my husband, of course) I’ve ever met. He was probably in his 60′s, has worked there for 25 years and had all our problems solved in about 7 minutes. He put our shower handle on correctly, closed window vents below the windows that had been opened, changed our air filter in the heater, and all our problems were solved. We talked about leaving a note that said he needs a raise, but in the hurry of the morning we forgot! We will have to this next time. Each week we get the same great deal on priceline at the same hotel. 3 1/2 star hotel for $50…why have we ever done anything other than priceline ever??

Well, no real changes or updates this past week. We will have an upcoming PET scan which will show soft tissue changes and if the cancer has spread, reduced in size or stayed the same in those areas. Don’t know the exact date on the scan but we will let you know when the results of that are back.

I am contemplating a fundraiser that would be quite a bit different than other fundraisers we’re thinking about. Its not uncommon and I know many other people and causes that have done it…but I think we could add some creativity to it and make it unique! I’m thinking of designing a Team Joshua t-shirt. See, no ground breaking idea. Still trying to figure out who to do that with since we have so many people out of town and we want people to be able to place their orders independently and have it directly shipped to them, that way we don’t have to handle all the shipping and we don’t have to carry stock. Then every time Joshua has a scan or test of some kind we would let you know and you would all wear your t-shirts. That day, at some point, take a picture of yourself(ves) somewhere or somehow creatively…maybe at a monument or in front of a coffee shop Josh loves. It could be hanging upside down at a playground or just a cool family shot. The more creative the better! We’ll pick the top 5 creative shots of the day and we’ll post them on the blog. But, even if you don’t think you’ll win, if you take a shot, send it…all of them will be encouraging to Josh. If anyone has any ideas on an online place to have them made let me know.

Okay, have to sign off! It always takes 10x longer to compose these updates than I start thinking its going to, probably because I get interrupted 150 times by my kids. Have a great weekend!

Love, Naomi and family