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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.

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

Friends, Food (healthy), and laughter!!

I’m going to ‘try’ very hard to write a short update…not an easy task for me as you have probably noticed.  But we have to get up for radiation, a visit with the social worker at Mercy, and then down to Ia. City to visit with the VA as to their part in Joshua’s treatment.  The Dr. here seemed very cordial and willing to play any part they could that would assist us the most, even if that was to only supply the med’s.  Of course supplying the Tarceva cancer pill is the main concern as it’s cost is prohibitive to most everyone, unless their last name is Winfrey or Forbes.  Anyways, we’re thankful for the first initial contact and are praying for an equally good relationship to develop with the VA in Iowa City.  We’ll also find out about any other potential benefits…Joshua has been looking into the information on the burn pits that many of the soldiers manned unmasked or protected while in Iraq.  This most likely will be a long term effort however, as not much discussion is being accepted by the military or political officials at this point.

This weekend we had visits from not one but 4 people from California.  Nico, Betsy,and their 10month old baby, and Justice Frangipane whom Joshua has known since High School. What a blessing.  They are all into eating healthy and spent the time they had here cooking and teaching me how to cook some more recipes that will be more substantial for Joshua.  What a help that was…I now feel like I have a few resources at my disposal and not so overwhelmed, trying to pick out of all my books and info on the internet what would be best.  There are differing opinions.  And everything was so tasty.  Joshua has finally gotten his wish to push me to expand my eating repertoire.  They prayed together and just were such an encouragement.  I can’t believe how fortunate I feel being able to meet so many of Joshua’s friends from different stages in his life…and they are all such wonderful, loving people.  How blessed he is and now me.  And his professor friend from Iowa Writer’s Workshop stops by now and then, but never without a few bags of goodies from the Co-op in Ia. City.  So thoughtful and always interesting and encouraging conversation.  Thanks to you all, we love and appreciate you so much.

As his friend put it, he was thrilled to see him up and feeling so good.  He’s assuming and planning on his class to teach at the end of January.  I”ll probably go with him the first few times just as a precaution, but pray that his goal can be achieved.  Also please pray for the other spots on his spine that need to be radiated.  He’ll finish plan 1 on Tuesday, but some of his recent pain came from his C-2 in the neck and lower back I believe.  How we would love to have the Tarceva work on those so radiation wouldn’t be necessary.  I feel like we are resting by the green valley as the moment…and who knows it may last for awhile.  🙂 We also received a cookbook and a financial gift from a friend out of the blue which was a real surprise…thank you, David.

Well, we hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your families and time together.  Our emphasis will definitely be on the blessing of being together.  (besides I’ve yet to get out to shop anyways).  God is really teaching me to live one day/hour at a time this time around.  Anything else would do me in.  When I jump ahead and begin thinking about the ‘what ifs’, I can almost literally feel His hands on my face turning my head to look straight ahead, saying, “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and what He has told you…obey what you’ve heard”.  Please pray that I will continue to be able to do that as time goes on.  We’ve been getting communion brought to us several times a week, but pray that maybe one or both of us will be able to attend Church soon.  It’s the sitting for Joahua in the hard pews, and if he can’t go someone has to stay with him so I can.  We’ll work on that. Or maybe we can watch it on TV as we have that option now…that we forgot about.

Well, so much for my ‘short’ update.  Impossible I guess.  It’s almost midnight, the bewitching hour so I need to go to bed.

Hoping you’re all having a great Advent Season and wonderful Christmas.  We’ll be thinking and praying for you all.

Love and blessings to everyone we’ve grown to love more and more…the best gifts we could have been given for Christmas.


Love and Prayers,

Kristi, Joshua, and Family


PS.  Thanks Kathy for the offer of a meal to freeze for Christmas gathering time and Holly your gift and special note from you and your children brought us to tears…We’d love to thank you in person, but realize it’s Christmas and that will probably be impossible, so please accept our thanks in this manner.

And Doralyn, your love and support this second time around is more than we could ask for, thank you so much.

I wish we could thank every0ne and I’m sure we’re forgetting some of you, but please know every gift and expression of love is appreciated more than you know.

December 21, 2011 - 3:56 PM

brett FISH anderson - hi there

i don’t know Josh personally but heard about his story and have just caught up on the latest update from someone who emailed in to the Simple Way community in Philadelphia where my wife Val and I work – we recently had a friend in south africa dive into a dam and injure his back/neck and it has been incredible watching the christian community rallying around Him in a similar way to what you have hopefully been experiencing [seems like it from this last post] and so just wanted to encourage you to stay focused on God and find your strength in Him – my comfort Psalms is 34 especially vs 18 which says to me no matter how low you go God knows and is there and then also the Psalm 23 ‘though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me and your staff and rod comfort me – i will fear no evil’ passage…

God is able to bring good out of all bad and so keep standing on Him and His word and allowing Him close – my best friend at home was diagnosed with cancer and so I have been watching his chemo visits and operations with much hope as well…

strength in Him
love brett and the simple way community

December 21, 2011 - 3:58 PM

brett FISH andersonq - hi there

i don’t know Josh personally but heard about his story and have just caught up on the latest update from someone who emailed in to the Simple Way community in Philadelphia where my wife Val and I work – we recently had a friend in south africa dive into a dam and injure his back/neck and it has been incredible watching the christian community rallying around Him in a similar way to what you have hopefully been experiencing [seems like it from this last post] and so just wanted to encourage you to stay focused on God and find your strength in Him – my comfort Psalms is 34 especially vs 18 which says to me no matter how low you go God knows and is there and then also the Psalm 23 ‘though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me and your staff and rod comfort me – i will fear no evil’ passage…

God is able to bring good out of all bad and so keep standing on Him and His word and allowing Him close – my best friend at home was diagnosed with cancer and so I have been watching his chemo visits and operations with much hope as well…

strength in Him
love brett and the simple way community

Update: Friday the 16th

Here I am, sitting in a dark room, computer on silence, listening to a cancer relaxation CD. I think its entirely possible it is putting me to sleep faster than it is Joshua! Oh the joys of being a mother…constantly sleep deprived, as many of you know and are experiencing also.  Okay, back to the issue at hand, Josh ended his second full week of radiation today. Only two days left of his 14 day treatment course, and on Tuesday he will walk out and ring the bell by the waiting room so that everyone waiting for their radiation can cheer and give him a round of applause. =) Its a fun little tradition to celebrate the end of treatment!

Overall, Josh is doing really well. He is up, juicing his own juice mixtures and taking care of all his own personal care. His Dr. clarified for him that although he does have one vertebrae on the verge of collapse, he is not in any risk of instigating the collapse just by basic stretching or movement. Josh would have to fall very hard or lift something heavy. Consequently, he is more relaxed and not moving so tentatively now. And he’s able to do some light stretching to help with muscle soreness and pain. The bed he sleeps in is awesome and I tell him all the time I wish I could take it home with me. It is movable like a hospital bed, but comfortable…super comfortable. It is a bed my mom and dad used to use for my mom’s fibromyalgia and acid reflux. They set up his “bedroom” in a great location, a room right by the front door. He has a bathroom right next to his room and the kitchen also right by him. So, easy access. He still doesn’t go out except for radiation and Dr. appointments because he tires very quickly. Over the past week he’s been dealing with more persistent nausea, but we’re hoping a new med change is positively affecting that.

Visits are still a little tricky, as some days he feels good and can handle a visit, other days he just doesn’t have it in him to interact and is requiring more rest. Please know that Josh SO appreciates all the love and care, and if you are hoping for a visit we just ask people to be flexible if we need to reschedule last minute, and maybe to call right before coming so if he’s sleeping we can begin waking him up. Try to keep visits short (maybe 20-30 minutes). At this point though, written letters are still a wonderful way to express your love and concern for Josh. He needs to continue hearing that people care and written letters not only allow him to read when he has more strength, but to re-read when he needs a reminder of hope. Feel free to do that by snail mail or email and we’ll make sure Josh gets it!

I have to set my update aside and pick it up tonight…sorry its only a partial!


December 18, 2011 - 2:52 AM

Nora Clair - Praying for you all the time Joshua! Lots of love from Princeton.


December 20, 2011 - 6:43 PM

Jeffrey J Weiss - Joshua

We are praying for you here at the Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines, Iowa. I survived nine months of chemotherapy and radiation in 2005 for 3rd stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My brother, close your eyes and picture the old ‘pac-man’ game the medicine moving through your body and eating the C-cells….. Fade off to the music brother and let your body relax, we send all our love from Des Moines. We are with you.
Jeffrey J Weiss Director of CPM

The Big 3-2!

December 27th is Joshua’s 32nd birthday!! We thought one way that we could celebrate is to put together a book of pictures and wishes from his friends and family. So, if you’d like to participate here is what you can do:

1. Send me a picture of you and Josh! Most pictures are probably available digitally and you can just email them to me, but for those who have been friends with Josh since wayyyy back in the day and only have hard copies, if you don’t have a scanner you can send them to me and I will scan a digital copy. Preferential treatment will be given to any picture in which Josh is breakdancing, riding a dirt bike, wearing make up and/or a loincloth, attending a sit-in, or generally acting like Josh 🙂

If you can, include approximately when and where the picture was taken and the names of the people in the picture.

Also make sure you include a birthday message!

2. If you don’t have any pictures, but still want to send along a birthday message, just email me your message and I will make sure that it gets included in the book!

My email address is rebekahnd AT Just email me for my physical address if you have a hard copy to send.

I’d like to have the book ready for him actually on the 27th, so please email me your picture/message on or before December 22nd.

Thank you in advance for helping make Josh’s birthday so special this year!!  – Rebekah Latchis (Josh’s sister)

(the picture above is of Josh rapping at my wedding )

December 20, 2011 - 2:12 AM

Chad Nicholson - Digging through the archives for my best Joshua pictures. We’ll get something to you soon, Rebekah! Thanks for putting this together.

December 27, 2011 - 2:07 PM

Dana M. - I don’t have any pics but I wanted to say how thoughtful Josh and his family are (were) so many years ago. I worked with a young man, Greg, who became homeless after leaving a facility for troubled youth. Josh went to school with Greg and invited him to share his bedroom until the end of the school year. I visited both Greg and Josh in the Casteel home and they truly showed me what it was like to live Matthew 25. During Rick’s illness, Josh took over running the bookkeeping and helped tie up his parent’s finances. What a guy!!

Happy birthday Josh!!

A Financial Appeal

Hello friends,

In the midst of what will surely be additional updates on Joshua’s condition, we wanted to mention the following. The Casteel Family’s financial burdens have significantly increased since Joshua’s diagnosis. As friends of Joshua and his family we are asking those who feel led to consider making a financial gift to help cover their bills so they can focus on caring for Joshua. By way of rough example, $25 contributes to the fresh organic produce necessary to help Joshua keep a healthy juice diet; $100 covers a hotel room for Joshua’s weekly visits to Chicago to teach his class at Columbia College. A donation in any amount would help defray the mounting medical bills not covered by insurance.

Many of you are already contributing with your time and prayers, and we are all beyond grateful. This site is also equipped with a link to sign up to bring a meal, along with a Google Group link where you can sign up to receive emails detailing specific ways to help dispatch other concerns. But especially for those loved-ones who are not physically present, this site is equipped with a link to make a donation using PayPal if you’d like to join with us in giving financially.

Donations can also be mailed directly to Kristi at:

Casteel Family
285 34th Street SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

Thank you so much for your support in any and all forms. It is a joy to be a part of such a loving group of people.


Joseph Clair and Chad Nicholson

If you would like to join the mailing list Joshua’s family uses to request help on errands, and other practical services, please click on the “GoogleGroups” link above.  You will be prompted to send an email requesting to be added to the mailing list.


*** A quick word of update (December 29, 2011) ***

The Casteels have received much tangible love and support from you all in the last few weeks, and for that we are extremely grateful. The needs remain great, but it has been so encouraging to see such sacrificial giving from so many of you. Thank you so much for your generosity!

In response to some questions we have received: All of the donated funds are deposited into a separate account bearing a tax ID for the Joshua Casteel Benefit Account. However, it is impossible to register that entity as a tax-exempt organization, meaning donations are not tax-deductible to the party donating. They are still received by the Casteels as a tax-free gift.

Thank you again!

Joseph and Chad

February 27, 2012 - 5:35 PM

Jeffrey J Weiss of Catholic Peace Ministry - God Bless the Casteel family we are waiting for some positive results of the PET Scan and we are part of ‘Team Joshua’

God Bless all of you and so glad Joshua is in the classroom and we look forward to seeing you soon

March 14, 2012 - 11:17 PM

Julianne - Is there any way that the worship event on the 24th could be videotaped and shared with Joshua’s adoring public? love, Julianne

April 2, 2012 - 11:07 AM

Jeffrey J Weiss - Joshua your words on Saturday night oriented my return back in time for 3rd stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a year on a spiritual journey – Thank you for that gift — We are brothers and — Your students are blessed with your person and I’ll forge ahead with mine here in IA — No goodbyes — Jeffrey

April 10, 2012 - 7:22 AM

Helen Schwietert - Let me know if you want me to go to WHole FOods for you when in Chicago. i am going May 12 for a few days.

May 11, 2012 - 9:31 AM

Erika Latchis - Joshua, Kristi and all Casteels,

Thinking of you with love and prayers, especially today,

Erika and Ken

June 13, 2012 - 2:10 PM

Madeleine Wells Goldburt - Ahlan wa Sahlan ya Josh!

I recently looked you up on Facebook and found out about your condition. I wanted to wish you the best of luck with your new regimen and tell you about an exciting place that I believe can help many of us. I’m currently at the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach Florida for a long-standing health condition. The program is excellent and works on multiple levels – nutritional, spiritual, and physical. I hope you’ll check it out. Please let me know if you or your family have any questions!

I wish you lots of love and blessings in your healing process,

Madeleine (from Middlebury) مادلين

August 20, 2012 - 1:17 PM

Catholic Peace Fellowship - Continued prayers for you and your family Joshua.

In Christ’s Peace,
Shawn and all with the Catholic Peace Fellowship

August 22, 2012 - 9:32 AM

Eli - Blessings and Love Joshua. WE are praying for you.