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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.


Happy New Year Everyone.  We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years’ celebration with your family and friends.  We did.  I hope Naomi posted our ‘Christmas Card’ where everyone can see it…she sent it to  me via e-mail.  I’m assuming she posted it.  Now that was a trick to get all 10 of us, five of which are children, sitting, looking forward, not crying, and smiling when the camera is sitting on some piled up boxes and it’s taken by a delayed flash that one of the adults pushed and ran over trying to look calm and happy.  But after about 10 tries we finally came up with one that was at least presentable.  (Madeline had her crazy little face but that just shows more of her cute personality).  And you could probably not tell that at least three or four of the adults were sick with either cough, colds, or sore throats.  What you can’t see on the ‘surface’ of peoples’ lives, right?  And guess who was the most healthy individual of the bunch?  Yup, Joshua…all that good nutrition he’s getting from juicing and eating healthy is keeping him in great shape.  We’ll never discount the prayers, however, as being an integral if not the most integral part of his condition improving on a daily basis.  He needs his naps to stay healthy and he can really see the difference when he doesn’t get them, but for the most part he’s doing really great!  We’re so thankful.

We had a slight scare the other night with his eyelids starting to flutter (which was the main symptom before his seizure).  So as not to tempt fate and be proactive, this time we thought we would go into the ER before it got worse and potentially lead to a seizure.  As it turns out the doctor felt it could be a result of a long day of visitors and no nap and he was just tired.  So we’re trying to make sure he gets those naps in.  I still get SO scared if I think a seizure is possible (left-over from experiences with Rick I’m sure), but I am calmed down again now and attempting to not live in fear, but assume he is getting better day by day and not focus on what ‘could’ happen.  It is one BIG  goal to learn how to not live in hyper-vigilence when you’re caring for someone you love.  I sure hope the Lord gets me down the road on that one going through this again (round two).  If nothing else I will certainly have gained compassion and understanding for those who have to go through similar trials…hmmm, I think I’ve read that somewhere.:-)

Then as if there wasn’t enough excitement in our Holiday celebration, I managed to drum up a whole lot more and got into a car accident.  (At the intersection of Blairs Ferry and Center Point Rd.,a fairly busy intersection)  I was going through the intersection on a late yellow light and a young woman turned in front of me.  It was quite frightening also.  She spun completely around and we ended up hitting and landing side by side on the riders’ sides.  My car ‘may’ be totaled, her’s not so bad.  THANKFULLY neither of us were seriously injured.  I thought I was just a little sore the following day but the second day after, I moved wrong in trying to get out of bed and I couldn’t move at all without a searing pain going up and down my left side.  And I had a very bad migraine.  So Joshua now became the caretaker and he helped me to his bed (it can go up and down) gave me a muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory , migraine medicine, and I slept the majority of the day.  By that evening I was much better.  I’m still somewhat sore but the bad pain has not returned.  You know, someday, I’m sure we’ll look back on all of this happening at the same time with some form of humor, but right now I, for one, am ready for a little less of…everything!!  Except your prayers…:-)

Lastly, today we had our first appt. with the new Dr. and it went extremely well.  She was very attentive, involved and stressed her style as being one of working together as a team.  Just what we wanted and need.  We left feeling very strong confirmation that we made the right decision in changing.  It felt so good to leave feeling supported and encouraged rather than stressed.  So thank you for praying for us in this big decision.  Which also reminds me that I have some good news about Joshua’s C-2 vertebrae that has cancer present that I asked you all to pray about.  ABout a week ago, before going to bed we were praying and I put my hand over his C-2 and it was quite enlarged or swollen.  (I didn’t say much about it to him…just asked you all for prayer).  Several days later, I went to pray and put my hand on his neck and it was almost flat!  I had him sit a couple of ways to see if his position changed things in any way and it didn’t.  My only explanation is our prayers!!  He will have another PET Scan in February, so we will be able to more clearly compare the affected areas to the last scan.  We’ll know more specifics then. But thank you, thank you, thank you…and please keep praying.  Each prayer matters and I know is heard and answered in God’s perfect way.  As I said before, our prayers are that you will receive GREAT blessing as a result of your generous gifts to us and your prayer…really the giving of yourselves!  We are so blessed to have each one of you in our lives.

Prayers that we will ALL be filled with HOPE for the new year…

With Love to you all,

Kristi, Joshua, and Family


Casteel Christmas 2011

January 3, 2012 - 10:57 PM

Shauna Flammer - Kristi, look at you and your cute family. I have thought about you a hundred times since our good times on 4th North. I visited with Kathy on the phone last week and she told me about your life and your husband and son. I am so sorry to hear about all you hard stuff. It also sounds like you have been blessed in your praying. Life is certainly interesting isn’t it? I think back on the fun times we had as roommates. Steve and I are preparing to go to Hungary in two weeks for an 18 month mission. We will be teaching English and Steve will teach German in the town of Saporon on the Austria border. We will both teach music. We will add our prayers to yours for you Josh. I am so glad to find you again. Love, Shauna

January 13, 2012 - 5:26 PM

melinda tomsic - Hey Josh and family,
It was so good to see you after Christmas and wonderful to meet your mother. Love the photo of your family.
I am so glad to read the updates and hear how you’re doing. I know about chemo side effects–it’s good to know the meds are working but … When you get to other side, though, it’s all worth it, for sure.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I think about you often and am so excited that you are going to start teaching soon. I know you will be fabulous. Having some (much more modest) experience at teaching writing, I know how rewarding it is.
So hang in there, kiddo, and know that I am available if you need anything. I am having trouble getting the meal plan/contribution pages to load–it may be just my computer, but I thought I’d let you know just in case.
Best regards, Melinda Tomsic

January 14, 2012 - 12:10 AM

admin - I’ll check with Naomi or Chad about the meal-plan sections. Good to meet you also Melinda.

Quiet but Thankful Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve to Family and Friends!!

 The house is silent (Joshua is resting), Naomi and family are celebrating with Travis’ family and Rebekah and  family come tomorrow.  I put up the Christmas tree today and will wrap presents in a little bit.  This is not much different than last year, except Joshua didn’t make it home until dinner time and then we went to Mass.  We tried to go out for dinner but found nothing open so we came home and he cooked a good Italian dish.  Tonight we’ll probably do something similar but it will be a little more uniquely healthy. Last year was actually the first time I had spent Christmas Eve day alone and it was fairly lonely, so having Joshua here this year is so nice…even though we didn’t do a lot of Christmasy things…We juiced!!!  :-)  (one of the most important activities of life right now).
However, our going to Mass tonight will be his first time to attend since he went into the hospital Oct. 30th.  Thank you, Lord.  We’re hoping his back will hold out for the whole time but he can always get up and walk around.  It will be nice just to be there.  He has gone out for a couple of hours twice this week and he looks and feels much better.  We’ll take a picture tomorrow for our Christmas picture and you can see the ‘new and leaner Joshua’…he’s lost almost 40lbs which as I mentioned he’s not terribly sad about, but the ‘diet’ is not something he’d recommend of course.  He put on a pair of jeans he hasn’t worn since college or grad school a couple of days ago and it felt really good…You have to find a little humor and look for the good side of things when in crisis.  He’s so good at that anyways.
I’m assuming you’ll read this after Christmas, so we will say hope yours ‘was’ wonderful.  One BIG gift for all of us is that good friends of ours (the Gullicksons) brought over enough food and drink for our entire Christmas meal.  And it all looks so yummy.  Thanks so much again Kathy. Travis was really thrilled when he heard the news because he had volunteered to cook Christmas dinner.  It will just make the day so much less hectic and will give us more time to spend together enjoying the day and each other.
Love to you all,
Kristi, Joshua and family
December 29, 2011 - 11:36 AM

Rodger Routh - Merry Christmas, and a very healing new year.

December 31, 2011 - 1:26 AM

CTN - Happy New Year, Shua. And all the Casteels. May His grace be new every morning, none more so than this coming reset.

December 31, 2011 - 10:40 AM

Joseph Clair - Happy New Year Shua! Thinking of you today and of that Lebanese restaurant across the street from our flat at 107A in Oxford. Ha! I send love and peace and prayers your way today.

January 2, 2012 - 11:10 PM

Lee Mickey - A blessing for the new year….
May God Bless you and keep you!
May God’s face shine upon you,and be gracious to you!
May god look upon you kindly and give you peace (and good health)!
(paraphrased from Numbers 6:24-27)

Prayer Request and Christmas Blessing

Hello Everyone,

First of all I wanted to let all of you know of a current very important prayer request. I have felt prompted all day to get this out to you all. As you know Joshua is done with his first round of radiation. They did not do the tumor at his C-2 (at the base of his neck) because they are hoping that the Tarceva may effect that one. There are also one or two in his lower spine. These tumors were not on the first scan so they appeared fairly quickly if I am understanding the Drs. correctly. The C-2 being so close to the brain is of concern to me and the wait will be one to two months before the next scan unless our new Dr. feels differently. This concerns me somewhat. So if we could all pray that the Tarceva (or God’s direct intervention) would target these areas in particular in these next few weeks we would really appreciate it. Radiation carries risks, especially to the surrounding organs and areas, which is why they are waiting, but we all know that it can spread quickly. Thank you again, everyone for your love and prayers. Knowing we can count on your prayers is such an encouragement. And we have all seen thus far what prayer can do.

Now I want to extend our family’s wishes for a wonderful and blessed Christmas with your family and friends. And I want to thank all of you for all you have given to us…in every possible way. We are so blessed and will be thanking God for each one of you as the best gifts we could have ever received.

Love and Prayers to you all,
Kristi, Joshua, and Family

PS. We plan to send a family Christmas picture (our version of a Christmas card when everyone gets home.)

March 7, 2012 - 3:52 AM

Minster Winston Allen - Please take me serious. I don’t want to die. My side is hurting. It could be Appendicitis. I do not know. I cannot sleep. I have not been to the doctor. I feel I would not make it. Please rebuke DEATH off me. I feel that JESUS and the PRAYER WARRIORS are my only chance. This is an S.O.S.!!! I don’t want to die cause of this. I don’t want to die!

March 11, 2012 - 12:32 PM

genesis - Lord Jesus, I pray that I be granted divine mercy and favour as I am being subjected to trials, afflictions and accusations. Lord save me, heal me, deliver me, vindicate me, prosper and establish me and my family in Jesus name. AMEN!

Republished Update from Caring Bridge

Hi everyone..

Christmas has been nearly impossible to provide updates through anyway, so its a good time to work those bugs out. Christmas is a lot fun but feels busier and busier every year! Josh is doing great! He finished his last day of radiation on Tuesday, which was great. He had one 14 day course of radiation to two areas of his spine. His scans and pain level will dictate whether they treat other affected areas, but for now they’re done. His T1, and T7-T12 were radiated, and his C2, which is just at the base of his head, is an area they are considering radiating in the future.

The hospital does a great job providing volunteers that are so sweet and very passionate about the job they do! =) For those of you that have been a part of someone’s radiation or have received radiation yourself, you are probably aware of the bell that hangs on the wall beside the check in desk. When you finish your course of radiation you get to go and ring the bell and everyone claps for you. And there is a little old woman who volunteers who is passionate about getting people to ring that bell! A small thing, but when Josh first began his radiation we walked in on this little old man ringing the bell and having his hand shook and back patted while he walked out of the radiation center smiling. So cute! When I showed up yesterday to take Josh to his last day of radiation I came with a toy car from Radiator Springs, a superhero t-shirt, some of whom gained their super human abilities after being exposed to radiation:), and a no-sew fleece blanket of superhero’s, which I quickly learned boys don’t find quite as fun to assemble as girls! Never too late to learn something new. I made Josh wear the t-shirt, and brought a camera for the “bell-ringing” ceremony, of which I cought the last 2 1/2 second of on video…grrrr. You’ve got to do those things though to make this journey fun. And Josh is a good sport, even though it was one of the ugliest t-shirts I’ve ever purchased for a grown man.

Like I said, Josh is doing really well. His pain is still under control, he is in good spirits, he is able to rest as much as he needs to, he gets out occassionally for short outings and even does some of his juicing himself. I’m going to post a link to an article that explains some called a “burn pit” that were operated in 80 locations across Iraq and Afganistan. Joshua operated a burn pit for a short period of time while stationed at the prison of Abu Ghraib, and now they are seeing a connection (for obvious reasons when you understand what these burn pits were) between many illnesses, like cancer, and those soldiers exposed to burn pits. Joshua is pursuing compensation and will be working with some individuals who will be filing his claim.

Okay, although the ending is rushed cause I have to pick up my kids from school…I’m glad to at least be able to update those of you who are so faithfully praying and supporting Joshua and our family. I pray your Christmas is a wonderful one and I will try to update as much as I can!


December 22, 2011 - 1:04 AM

Chad Nicholson - Ring those bells!

December 22, 2011 - 5:40 PM

Luna - Naomi, I’m glad you’ve found some info on burn pits. While Miguel was out visiting Joshua at the VA hospital in Chicago, I was home doing research…I’m an environmental risk analyst, and we deal with carcinogenic exposures all the time. At first I thought Joshua’s condition might have something to do with radon – potentially at Abu Gharib. But the more research I did, the more the signs all pointed to burn pits. I saved a ton of information, articles, links to my home computer and would be happy to share them with you.

December 27, 2011 - 10:10 PM

Will Jennings - Hi Josh,

Sending you and yours the best in thoughts, prayers and intentions. Keeping you all close in our hearts. I’ll keep checking the site(s) to see what needs or things might be of benefit and count on us all to come through as best as we are able.

For whatever reason, when I read Mia NUssbaum’s update (how I learned about your current circumstances and challenges), all I thought about was shaking your hand and exchanges eye contact…and quickly figured that was all being driven from something inside that comes out in your work, in your smile, in your grip.

Anytime, any day, all day, as always,


January 31, 2012 - 2:20 AM

Patrick Jehle - Hello, Joshua.

I believe my wife, Jenny Boully, forwarded an email to you from me. I hope this comment finds you well on the way to recovery.

I know it must be incredibly difficult, so I figure you can use all the help you can get. Here is a new interview with Dr Thomas Seyfried, the biologist and neuroscientist at Boston College I mentioned in my letter. Given that you seem sympathetic to dietary treatments, I thought you might like this further explanation of Seyfried’s work. His thesis is that the damage to the mitochondria of cells precedes the genetic damage – that, in effect, the whole of medical science has it backwards. Pretty bold claims, I know. He argues that targeting energy metabolism is the safest, cheapest, and in many cases most effective way to manage cancer. It is also a proven treatment (used at Johns Hopkins on children) for seizures. According to Seyfried, a restricted ketogenic diet along with 2-deoxy-DG-glucose (or 2-DG) and phenylbutrate (off-patent drugs that are administered in very low doses) put tremendous strain on metastatic cancer cells and either stop or radically slow down their growth. (The reason he recommends 2-DG and phenylbutrate for metastatic cancers is, as he explains in the interview, that some metastatic cancers take up a significant amount of glutamine in addition to glucose, and these drugs block the uptake of glutamine.) Here it is (please ignore the delirious title of the interview, which makes it sound like spam or quackery):

I wish you all the best and look forward to meeting you soon. Please take care and stay strong. And I hope you enjoy your first semester teaching at Columbia. I know Jenny is tremendously excited to have you on board.

Patrick Jehle