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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.

Change in Surgery Date

Just wanted to let everyone know that there’s been a change in the date of Joshua’s surgery. Instead of Thursday at 5, it will be Friday at 5-ish. The Dr. had a conflict in schedule. So everything else is the same…we’ll check into Mercy Hospital at 1:00 and have the afternoon to get him prepped, blood work etc. So just one additional day to put up with the pain before what we hope and pray to be relief. Again, thanks for your prayers!

Love to all,
Kristi and Joshua

May 10, 2012 - 8:08 AM

Joseph - Thanks for keeping us posted, Kristi. We are praying fervently here in Princeton every day. We are praying for a successful surgery on Friday, for comfort and pain relief for Joshua today, and for healing in general. Lord hear our prayer! We love you guys so much and are with you in spirit.

Surgery…and hopefully relief and healing!

Today Joshua and I met with Dr. Seigal, a neurosurgeon, to talk about his latest MRI which showed cancer on his spine in the lumbar region, the source of his most recent pain. Unfortunately by the time we had our appointment he was in a lot of pain. We had been worked into the doctor’s schedule and Joshua was his last patient…quite a long and uncomfortable wait. But it was well worth the wait as we both were very impressed with Dr. Seigal. He reminded us of Joshua’s pulmonologist, Dr. Cowden whom we like so well. He was attentive, very competent, and took the time to explain fully what the problems are and also the options we have for treatment. His recommendation was to have the least invasive surgery to strengthen and stabilize the bone sections that are cancerous by injecting cement into them…can you believe that? They should be more than strong. He will also remove some malignant tissue that is extending into the spinal canal which may also be interfering with some nerves…potentially causing some of his present pain. He has done many of these surgeries and has had very good results, so he gave us some much needed confidence in the midst of this new problem. And he was very positive about the healing that can take place in the absence of any future cancer…his back regaining its strength. Of course we discussed the risks and the inability to ‘guarantee’ success or the lack of potential unforeseeable problems as is true with everything in life we know. So we would appreciate your prayers of course. He goes into the hospital Thursday afternoon as it stands right now and the surgery is at 5pm. The Dr. also said that he could start radiation within a few days. He will have 14 treatments like the first round on his thoracic spine, I believe. If we start right away and need to have the treatments uninterrupted we won’t be able to go to the North Shore at the end of the month as we had planned. That’s disappointing, especially to him as he was so looking forward to it, but there’s no question in anyones’ mind what is most important. We may be able to go in the Fall.

I think that about covers things for now. I have to say that once again God transformed my fear and nervousness into hope and confidence through the gift of what seems to be one of the best neurosurgeons in our area. (the woman who transcribes for him said he’s the best around and we were fortunate to have gotten him). I’m sure she’s a little biased, but I have to say we were equally impressed…he just exudes confidence. And most importantly, Joshua feels good about him and his abilities…that he can entrust himself into his hands (literally).

Of course we all know who’s hands he’s really in! Without that reality I don’t know where we’d be right now.

Love to you all and thank you for your continued prayers and love,
Kristi and Joshua

May 9, 2012 - 12:57 PM

Chad - Great news, overall. We’ll be praying for the surgery tomorrow.

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!




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.