A 12-year-old girl with cancer, who has captivated the Internet with her makeup tutorials over the past year, announced that her cancer has spread to her bone marrow.
Talia Castellano started her YouTube video channel, “Make-up is my wig,” about a year ago and quickly gained a following of more than 100,000 people. She appears in her videos bald, and goes through how to apply different styles of eye shadow and shows off finds from shopping expeditions.
Castellano, who lives in Orlando with her mother, father and older sister, was diagnosed with cancer more than five years ago when she was 7. Since then, she has continued going to school, while still pursuing her interest in makeup, art and dancing.
“I saw other girls making makeup videos on YouTube and thought it would be fun,” Castellano told TODAY.com. “I put one up and ever since then it gotten more and more popular. It’s cool that people are now seeing that fighting cancer is not just about chemo, and that there are different things that help us through the journey. For me that was makeup.”
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In the past year, Castellano has posted 150 videos on YouTube, not only talking about makeup, but also bringing awareness to childhood cancer, and promoting the CureSearch Walk. With makeup skills to rival any pro, she artfully applies primer, combines colors and explains which brushes to use when.
In her most recent video, Castellano, who turns 13 on Aug. 18, told her viewers that the cancer has returned and spread to her bone marrow.
“I know it’s a lot to take in. Right now I am leaning to not doing [the treatment] because I don’t want to go through that,” Castellano said haltingly in the video. “The chances of not surviving are fewer than surviving. If we even find a match, if my body rejects it then I am screwed, I went through all that crap for nothing.”
Doctors have told Castellano’s parents that after so many years of treatment, she should make the ultimate decision on how and if she wants to proceed.
“I will support her in whatever she wants to do,” Castellano’s mother Desiree told TODAY.com. “She told me, ‘I know my body,’ and I believe she does.”
Since announcement, scores of supporters have commented on her video, wishing her well.
"Please take solace in the fact that you are NOT going through this alone," wrote Android Ashley. "We're all behind you."
DisneySinger12 wrote: "I look up to you, because I wouldn't know how to deal with a situation like you're in. So, keep going and keep pushing. No matter what you decide to do, just know that we are all here to support you."
Castellano's family is now busy planning her Las Vegas-themed 13th birthday party, complete with showgirls and games tables.
Her parents plan continue in their efforts to raise money in support of cancer research and their own medical bills that have piled up over her many years of treatment. To update friends, family and well wishers on Castellano's progress, the family started a website, AnglesforTalia.com.
"I feel proud that I have accomplished so much on YouTube, have so many people watching and now taking seriously how childhood cancer don’t have enough funding," Castellano told TODAY.com.
Though she is only entering her adolescence, she sounds much older than her nearly 13 years, and she plans to continue making videos as long as she is able.
"The journey of having cancer has been amazing, but every journey has to have an end," she said in the video.
But sounding more like the child that she still is, she also comments: “I'm only 13, I shouldn't have to be doing this... It’s really not fair for kids to have cancer and it really frickin sucks."
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