Masthead header
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.

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

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

We’re Still Alive…Just Very Busy!!!

Hello Everyone…Yes, Joshua and I are still alive and kicking but our lives have taken on a very new dimension of busyness since we added in weekly trips to Chicago for him to teach his class. We have gone twice now. The first time he and I went alone, me driving, of course. And he sat and reclined the whole way there and back. But it was right after his headache episode, which turned out to be much more. By the time we got back on Wednesday (we stayed an extra day because I was literally falling asleep at the wheel while driving between Chicago and Oak Brook where we were staying…not enough sleep), Joshua was in excruciating pain and we ended up in the ER again only to find out his T-1 vertebrae that had collapsed after his seizure had collapsed more. The good news is that a friend (Dr. Mike Brooks ) advised us that it most likely was going to happen at some future point anyways and it was probably in a stronger condition as a result. However, it did make for a stressful and difficult trip for both of us and I soon realized that handling all of the details of packing and unpacking the car, juicing while in our hotel, making sure we had all the correct medications on schedule, taking care of Joshua, and driving etc. (you get the idea) was just going to be more than I could take on weekly on top of everything we have going on at home on a day to day basis. So Naomi went with us the 2nd week. We haven’t decided for sure yet whether it’s a 2 woman job, or if she will take over the job. If they can get the arrangements for kids worked out on a consistent basis, it will work for her. It’s somewhat of a get-a-way from her normal routine with kids and home, but it is still a big responsibility to put in every week, even with me getting everything ready to go and helping to pack and unpack the car etc. Joshua has to now lay down in the back of the car because of the stress on his back. He is really enjoying the teaching though, so we are going to do whatever it takes to make this happen for him, especially since we feel it was a definite ‘gift’ from God given to him less than 1 week before his diagnosis. It feels very providential and it is certainly giving him something to look forward to and feel good about as he is giving everything else he has in him to fight this terrible disease. He does a lot of his own juicing now and that is keeping him even more busy fighting.

He has such a ‘grace given’ attitude. God has and is using this extremely difficult circumstance to work deeply in his heart and soul. He is so thankful for it, because he’s very much aware of that and feels God’s presence in a very strong way as well as his Dad’s…a real communion with the suffering he went through. He will tell you more about what he feels God is teaching him and is leading him towards when he gets a chance and the energy to write himself.

One prayer request is that he was recently put on a bone strengthener which oddly enough lowers your calcium levels. While the doctors feel his seizure was induced by low calcium, It is a risk/benefit decision (which I’m not certain about yet) to work on strengthening his spine while keeping a weekly watch on his calcium levels. I asked for a calcium level check before we leave Monday morning for Chicago just to insure we’re not leaving with him in jeopardy again. If it is low they will have to supplement him by IV which will take some time. He is giving a reading Monday night before his class of one of his essays and so we have to be there earlier than normal. Please pray that his levels will be ok and that all the arrangements and timing will work out. For me this new treatment is somewhat frustrating as I was doing so much better in terms of concern about seizures…Always something more to learn to put into God’s hands!!!

The reading is also going to be a kind of fund raiser for him (Columbia College asked permission to make it into that which is very kind and thoughtful of them). He will also get paid for the reading and has been given several copies of his book and readings to have available for sale at the reading. This is all a real morale booster for him. So God continues to bless us through so many of you and always in unexpected ways. We are very thankful. And hopefully as we get this routine of travel and home duties down we will have a little more time for updates. Also, just so you know, Joshua will have another PET Scan near the end of this month so we will find out how the medicine is working and what the cancer is doing…hopefully dying!!! So you can count on a report about that.

Our love and prayers go out to you all,
Kristi, Joshua and family

February 4, 2012 - 9:14 PM

admin - A short PS.

Most of you may know, but Joshua is 64lbs. lighter than the picture above…we’re adjusting his diet to make sure that he maintains or hopefully gains a few lbs. back. This is turning out to be a lot harder than we thought it would be, so please pray that we can figure this important element out without compromising what he feels is necessary to battle the cancer well on a nutritional level. Thanks, Kristi

February 8, 2012 - 12:01 PM

melinda tomsic - Hey Josh,
Wanted to tell you I just read your essay Call of Duty online. Powerful stuff. You are so talented and so brave. My thoughts are with you. Melinda

February 9, 2012 - 7:17 AM

Diana Drummer (Travnicek) - Dear Friends,

Who would ever have imagined the paths our lives would take. My heart is so sad for the situation with your health Josh and Kristi; what an amazing mother you are. My prayers are for health, peace and comfort.
And remember>>>>Christ + Nothing = Everything

All the Best to You,

Diana Drummer (Travnicek)

February 20, 2012 - 1:54 AM

Fathima Shaw - Joshua, I pray the Almighty heals you!! My prayers are with you :)