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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.

One down…one to go! (important appts. that is)

Wanted to pass on that we went to the cardiologist today and Joshua had an echocardiogram to make sure everything was ok in that department. (his heart was racing at a former appt.) Even tho the we haven’t gotten the official report the tech said she couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary that she needed to report. So that is good news. One less thing to be concerned about, especially if we do elect to have surgery.

That appt. is tomorrow with the surgeon, and I have a list of questions for him. I’m actually more nervous about this appt. than I thought I would be. I guess I never planned on surgery and that’s new territory. So, please pray that I will sense God’s presence and control of all the circumstances. And especially for wisdom for both of us in choosing the right option. Joshua is not nervous, which is not unusual. He rarely gets nervous prior to appts., procedures etc. Wait to deal with things when they are put in front of you and not before is his philosophy. Very practical and wise. The ‘Mom’ in me fights that for sure.

Thanks again for the recent comments of support and for your ‘surprise visit’ Fr. Dave. It is all so important to us and helpful in staying hopeful and strong.

We’ll give another report after his appt. tomorrow.

We love you all,

Kristi and Joshua

May 8, 2012 - 5:51 PM

Chad - Praying for wisdom in the decisions ahead, and for strength in the meantime. Thanks so much for the updates.

I wanted to bring over a post I had to put on Caringbridge because this site was not working Sat. night when I wrote this. I know many of you don’t read Caringbridge anymore and this is the first time I have transferred a post so we’ll see how it all pans out. It’s a further update on what Naomi wrote Friday night after a long week or two of pain and our Dr. appt. with the radiologist.

First of all, he was in such pain when I took him in today that we didn’t think he’d even be able to go through with the MRI without extra pain medication (that has happened before). They were going to give him some relaxant but he knew it wouldn’t even touch the pain so he just elected to go through it without anything. As they wheeled him in I asked God to please just give him enough grace to ease the pain so he could at least go through the 20 min. procedure and not be in excruciating pain. He hadn’t been able to stay in one position for any length of time because of the pain. Is there anything more uncomfortable than an MRI machine and to lay still for 20 minutes can seem like an eternity when you’re in pain? Anyways, that’s exactly what the Lord did…I was thrilled and actually amazed when he told me how it had gone in almost the exact words of my prayer. I was encouraged!!!

Then we went up to see the radiologist and he gave us the bad news about the cancer having been eating away at the bone. When his T-1 vertebrae collapsed for the 2nd time on the way back from our first trip to Chicago (for his teaching at the end of January), we had an MRI in the emergency room and Joshua asked if they would take it also of his lumbar region and they said that it was too late and they had to concentrate on the area that was giving him the most problem. Then we erringly thought that the PET scan showed that the lesions on his spine were either gone or unchanged. He told the radiologist and our doctor about his lower back hurting but we put it in the category of strained muscles taking over for the hip that was being radiated. Neither Dr. suggested a lumbar MRI. When I asked the radiologist about that today, he said, “Unfortunately because of cost, we are ‘strongly encouraged’ not to take them unless there is some existing pain or symptom. And I said that it didn’t make much sense to wait until the damage was done and the patient is in great pain to see what was going on in a location where they knew there were cancer lesions. He agreed and said he knew it doesn’t seem right, but that is the way things work unfortunately. That made me (us) angry!!! We like both our radiologist and Oncologist very much but hate the system at times that is controlled more by the insurance companies than the welfare of the patients.

But, the damage is done. So then we were given some options which Naomi mentioned to either have surgery to stabalize the location (bone) and after healing then have radiation in 1-3 weeks or to have radiation immediately, with no guarantee how long it would take for the pain to decrease and there would be a fairly high risk of fracture as the bone would be weakened even further by the radiation. So, at this point, unless something tells us otherwise we are hoping to have surgery and then radiation.

But, as far as the pain goes, he was dreading thinking about spending the weekend in such pain if the increased pain meds didn’t work. He was even slightly toying with the idea of Decadron (which we hate and vowed never to take again). But both the radiologist and I suggested we give the pain pills a chance first. ANd thanks be to God, they are working and he’s feeling better than he’s felt all week… so far. I’m always a little concerned about the effects of the pain meds, so I’m watching him fairly closely, but I think the relief is really an answer to all of our prayers. (Oh, when we got to the hospital a woman came up to us and said, “This is Joshua? I’m praying for him, I just wanted you to know”). I was pretty rattled at the time and I recognized her name, but I just told her thank you and went on to our room. But still, another encouragement from the Lord to let us know He is with us and working.

Joshua is asleep now, which is what I need to be as well, and I’m praying he’ll sleep through the night. He hasn’t for several nights because of the pain. But I wanted to share a little more of the good news as well as what things we need to continue to pray for. Thank you all so much for your response to Naomi and Rebekah’s posts. How much we need all the prayers and encouragement. These times are so scary and each time it feels like our world gets turned upside down again. But, as his pain receded when we got home and I was able to take a breath (and eat) I proceeded to get more paperwork and organizing done than I have in weeks…weird. Maybe it’s my way of trying to put some order back into my life, but it worked to a very good purpose. This stuff hanging over my head all the time adds more stress than I can explain. So, I’m thanking God for that as well!! (Usually I come home after these kind of days and collapse on the couch not wanting to move. But tonight was another miracle, I guess, as I somehow had the energy to work for several more hours. But NOW i am going to bed. We’ll keep you posted Monday on what the decision is about surgery. (He also has an echocardiogram on Mon. because his heart was racing when he was at the pulmonologists a couple of weeks ago). So maybe that was an important test to have before any surgery and it’s good we couldn’t get a Dr. for this weekend. We just have to trust God for all these details.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your love and support!

Joshua and Kristi

PS. Please pray for wisdom for the right decision…I am finding I am more nervous about the surgery than I thought I would be. But the second option is not a great one either. We need guidance and peace!!!

2nd full round of radiation…FINISHED!!!

Hi Everyone!

Its Naomi again. Its been quite a while since I have posted an update, so since I have new photos and video of Josh to upload, I thought it was high time to say a hello! Ever since Joshua stopped teaching and our weekly trips to Chicago were eliminated its become harder and harder to find time to spend with Joshua and my mom. I have been taking Josh to radiation most every day for his 3 week course, but that is about 30-40 minutes at the most, of time I have with him, and that’s including the time he is back actually getting the radiation. I have three very active and time consuming daughters ages 7, 10 and 12, and we are nearing the end of the school year. So, things are busy on the child front. And, in an attempt to simplify life, maximize our available time, and use our financial resources in the best way possible we now have a “For Sale” sign in our front yard. We don’t have to be ready for showing until the 15th, but in the mean time its requiring that we organize, clean up and downsize what we keep in our house. Our hope is to move into a duplex, condo or rental house for a few years so that we have less space to clean and no outside responsibilities for Travis. He works an average of 50-70 hours every week (works most weekends) and I don’t want him using whatever time we have left of his outside mowing or trimming bushes! I want him with us! And we are excited about decluttering our life. It is so easy to end up with 5 times the amount of “stuff” than you really need, which equates to 5 times as much work keeping everything picked up and clean. More than anything we want a simple life (as simple as we can get it with our first entering middle school next year) with time available to spend with family and friends, with Joshua and my mom. We’ll never get this time back.

As far as Josh goes, Friday was his last day of radiation on his hip. I like to make a big deal of it (add some fun to the monotonous) and celebrate the mile markers. Every time my dad or Joshua finished radiation I always did something fun and this time was NO exception! His gift was a package of dried mangoes, in place of a cupcake or some other sugary celebratory treat. I made a BIG card for him and brought it in for all the radiation nurses and staff to sign before his radiation session. So, when he went in to his radiation we set things up and he walked out to a card a gift and, of course, the bell to ring to signify radiation being done! Its a fun group of ladies we see every day there and they’ve really taken to Josh. Instead of the normal bell “ringing,” Josh rang it by baseball swinging his cane…very “young guy-ish!” I will post pictures and the video of him ringing the bell. Although I did manage to get it on tape this time, I didn’t get one shot of all the nurses and staff that came out for his bell ringing. I was sad when I realized that. But it was fun!

And finally, I have something that I would ask you all to pray for, as you’ve become such prayer warriors for our family. I’ve had digestive problems for all of my adult life and I finally went in this past week for an endoscopy (camera down the throat). I was so curious to see what condition my stomach was in after years and years of medications to treat fibromyalgia and migraine headaches. The scope revealed a couple of things: acid reflux, gastritis (an irritation and swelling of the stomach lining), and biopsies came back confirming the presence of h pylori bacteria. Many people can have this bacterial infection and never show symptoms, but for others it can cause many frustrating symptoms, many of which I have been dealing with for years without a known cause. The infection has to be dealt with as I will continue to exhibit symptoms and may develop peptic ulcers, but more importantly, it is a leading cause of various forms of stomach cancer. All of the above I am in total agreement with as far as being happy to have discovered a cause for symptoms I’ve had, wanting to get it treated and eradicated from my system, but I was speechless when she listed off the meds required for treatment. I do not tolerate antibiotics well. In fact, many of them make me so sick I would be severely nauseated to the point of being non-functional. During a recent bout of strep throat I had to be taken off of and put on three different antibiotics before we found one I could function on while. So, when she listed off the meds it just happened to be the two I just had to discontinue for severe nausea, only this time I would have to take BOTH of them SIMULTANEOUSLY, along with Omeprozole and Pepto Bismol for 14 days. After I reminded myself that I was indeed awake and not dreaming, I told her I wasn’t even sure if that was going to be possible. She responded by saying that if I wanted the infection gone, it had to be!

So…I need prayer for supernatural nausea control! It hits at a bad time with prepping the house for sale and the end of the school year, but we are hoping that we might get Travis approved for family medical leave so that he can help me get through this and keep our household running. I haven’t started treatment yet because I am researching every possible natural nausea reducing treatment, in addition to the two anti-nausea meds they are planning to put me on (which I know won’t be strong enough). I will post a little update when I begin treatment, so people can start praying, but until then, pray that God leads me to the right combination of medications and natural supplements.

Okay, I will post the pics and the video of Josh in this post if I can. Until I write again, God bless!

http://s1053.photobucket.com/albums/s479/naomithompson/

 

 

 

April 29, 2012 - 1:23 PM

Naomi Thompson - I added some pics of my mom and I at Jimmy Greens in Chicago and Josh’s nieces and nephews when we were all together.

Prayer for pain relief…

I just wanted to ask everyone to keep Joshua in your thoughts and prayers right now because his hip, leg and lower back pain have gotten pretty bad. For the first time in quite awhile we’re back on the pain med Dilaudid. And today the DR. encouraged him to go up on the dosage so he can get some relief. Tomorrow is his last day of radiation and it continues to work for about 10 additional days.  So we’re hoping he’ll find some additional relief during those 10 days.

A few days ago we realized that his bed was starting to lean to the right (the side of his back that hurts) from being in it so much, so we turned the mattress. The next day it seemed his back had improved some. So we were encouraged. Then that evening he went to a new massage therapist, because his regular therapist was sick this week, and instead of putting a pillow under him to support his lower back she put a rolled up towel. It was very uncomfortable but he toughed it out only to feel terrible afterwards and then this morning. (I’m not sure why he didn’t just stop the massage but he didn’t and unfortunately paid a big price). It has to be so discouraging for him at times to have so much pain and be able to do so little without hurting. Hence, the Dr’s suggestion to up his pain meds. That always makes us nervous, so I’m praying he won’t have to do that for long…just long enough to get his muscles settled down around the radiated spot. Using a cane also increases the tension on his muscles on his right side. We’re all praying he will improve greatly in the next 3 weeks as we are planning our yearly trip to the North Shore of Minnesota, his favorite place and not only do we want him to be able to go, but to enjoy himself without having to deal with so much pain.

So thanks, just wanted you all to know how he’s doing and what to pray for. We think of you all so often, and wish it was easier to see you…you are all spread all around the country. But we’re very thankful just knowing you’re out there and with us in spirit.

Love to you all,
Kristi and Joshua

PS. Thanks for the “Juice for Joshua” party, Michael. The creativity never ceases to amaze us and it was very thoughtful. I’m glad you could have fun doing it as well.

April 28, 2012 - 5:01 AM

Julianne - Hi Joshua & Kristi, I just wanted to say that I am still out here, reading every single update. I am praying for you tonight Joshua, for pain relief and that you will be granted the gift of visiting the North Shore with your family, in JESUS’ name. I trust that God’s grace will keep surrounding and covering you both every moment of every day, just as His banner of Love does. I am so sorry for the struggle but always remember that you are never alone! You are so loved and surrounded by a company of those of who love you, seen and unseen.
Lotsa Love, Juli

Unmentioned Request & Pulmonologist Report

Just a quick report (really) because I have to get up early for an appt. in Ia. City tomorrow.  Today was a day of appointments…massage for Joshua which was great.  Really helped his aching bod…she let up on the pressure and he said he felt better after this one than any of the previous ones.  Then to radiation and then off to the Pulmonologist.  One new concern and two areas of good news.

First, Joshua’s heart is racing (about 100) and so he wants to get an echo cardiogram just to make sure things are ok.  Joshua wasn’t too keen on another major organ potentially having problems, but he’s choosing not to worry about it unless they find something.  Personally, I think it could be medication caused…he’s on so much.

The good news is that the spots they were following on my lungs seem to be just that…spots that the Dr. is not too worried about.  I’ll have a 3 month re-check but he doesn’t  expect there to be a problem.  Praise God…that would not have been welcomed news any way you look at it.  I also have to see a cardiologist as I am having heart palpitations now and then, but I’m thinking God is just giving me sympathy pains, so Joshua doesn’t feel so alone.  :-)  It is funny that our ailments at the moment seem to be in the same areas, minus cancer for me, of course.  But it does help me understand to some degree how he feels having all these medical issues, the questions, the waiting for answers etc.  And he’s not the only one constantly at the Drs. office.

The second piece of good news is that when Joshua mentioned to Dr. Cowden about the service related case he’s trying to complete with the VA right now, he jumped in to Joshua’s defense and said he did not want him out there alone trying to fight the government/military battle.  And that while they are asking Joshua to ‘prove’ that his illness goes back to 2004, the Dr. said what he needs is his team of Drs. to write a professional report stating that while they, of course, could not prove the burn pits were the only direct cause, they could in fact say that they were definitively a part of the cause which played together with other factors (unknown) to cause this type of cancer in someone so young.  He was SO supportive and encouraging and it felt so good to have someone with some authority step in to his defense and offer any and all help that he could.  What a relief and a blessing.  He suggested we just skip all the detailed questions and say refer to Dr. report.  What a relief!  One less lengthy report to be filled out.  Please pray for this report to have a good reception.  So far God has gone ahead of us in so many ways and cleared the path for us and this would be such a blessing and a help to Joshua as he doesn’t know what his future holds as far as income goes. And of course, he sees it as a chance to speak to the problem…especially concerning the Iraqi’s who must also be suffering from the same medical problems.  Who knows what God may have in mind with this issue for him.

As far as the request…it’s very hard for me to ask for ‘anything else’ because we have received so much already from so many.  But, this is a project that we can just not do on our own and it involves someone elses’ facility that they are graciously letting us borrow to store all of Joshua’s things in.  We have to get his things moved, especially his books…which account for most of the boxes over there.  There are probably 75 boxes or more just of his books.  And with the rain, there is a good chance of mold setting in and she has to run a dehumidifier for us which is not cheap.  We plan to go through them some day when we ever get the time, but for now I think we need to just put them down in my basement.  She has a forklift to put them in Joshua’s truck (we’ve picked up one load already and Mark, Rebekah’s husband unloaded them for us when they were home and they’re sitting in my office.  He has SO much stuff.  We will get rid of all his clothes as they are all way too big for him now and he doesn’t want to get back to that weight again anyways.  But all of this takes lifting and stacking and going through.  We mainly need help moving the books right now and if there is anyone who we haven’t already tapped out who offered to help but we didn’t know what we needed at the time, we’d really appreciate it.  We could do it on a Sat. or anytime that suited whomever can help.  I just feel very badly keeping my friends’ warehouse tied up and having to use and pay for the dehumidifier.  She’s been very gracious about it all, but I know she needs it out soon.  So just e’mail, call, or text us if you think you could help with this project.  It’s one of those that looks like David’s Goliath…so much bigger than we’re able to accomplish on our own.  Everyone has been so wonderful to us, it really is hard to ask for one more thing, but this is an urgent need that I’m just not finding an answer to.  (Naomi and Travis are getting their house ready to move and are tied up).

Thanks everyone, and Joseph, tell Augie to keep those prayers coming…”out of the mouth of babes”…I have great faith in his sweet ,innocent, and pure prayers.  And Roger, that is so great about Joshua’s talk.  We pray God will bless it everywhere it goes.  Thanks so much for your caring involvement.  We are still hearing from people from the Awards Banquet.  What an encouragement!

Again, Love to you all…we are so grateful!!

Joshua and Kristi

May 1, 2012 - 2:30 PM

Jim Forest - Just to let you know, Josh, that the prayers for you from our corner of Holland continue. I recall how the prayers of others put wind in my sails when I was awaiting a kidney transplant during those two years of dialysis. One of the good things about being sick was that I did a lot more reading. Do you have the energy to read?