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taliajoy18 / YouTube
Talia Castellano shows her viewers how to create "fire eyes" in this video she posted on June 24. Her tutorials have gained a following of more than 100,000 people.
TODAY contributor
updated 8/9/2012 4:34:08 PM ET 2012-08-09T20:34:08

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."

More from TODAY Beauty:
Born with just two fingers, mom finds beauty in imperfection
Entrepreneur: It’s OK to mix professionalism, pretty makeup
After chemo hair loss, 'henna crowns' help heal

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Photos: 'A Shade Of Red': One lipstick, many women

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  1. 'A Shade Of Red'

    Photographer Alyson Fox’s most recent project, "A Shade Of Red", is a book with more than 100 photographs of women - old women, young women, friends, family members, co-workers, sisters and grandmothers - with one common thread: all were photographed wearing the same shade of red lipstick.

    Some of the women had never worn bright red lipstick before, and many had never been professionally photographed before. Fox, who is based in Austin, Texas, found most of her subjects through word of mouth, as news of the project spread.

    “I didn’t know what my subject was going to look like or what my backdrop would be,” Fox told TODAY.com. “I would just show up at my subject's personal space. I would spend no more than an hour. I didn’t want it to be a staged shot, I was really going for something raw. I would just show up with a tube of lipstick.”

    The end result is an arresting and frank portrait of a group of women, from Texas to New York to Florida, which celebrates the individuality which shines through a communal shade of lipstick.


    Some of the younger portrait subjects were captured wearing lipstick for the very first time. “Ruby at the time was 9 years old,” said Fox. “She's not the youngest, she's the second youngest, but I really captured this look that was well beyond her years. She was incredibly comfortable in front of the camera.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Joy

    The photographer strove to capture the women in as natural a way as possible. This picture of Joy, a friend’s grandmother, was the last photograph Fox snapped that day. “We went outside and she just bent down and scooped up this cat and I just shot it at the right moment.” Fox remembers. “I just loved it. This particular cat actually passed away two weeks after I photographed the picture.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. April

    When it came time to choosing a lipstick for the project, Fox had no specific type in mind but she knew she wanted it to be a drugstore brand. “I wanted it to be something that everyone could afford and to me this is kind of about an everyday woman, a community of women so it just felt right being a simpler lipstick.” So Fox went to a Walgreens and headed to the beauty aisle. “I had 6 tubes in my hand. I strictly picked it on the name of the shade: [Revlon’s] ‘Certainly Red’ really struck a chord with me. I bought one tube.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Mimi

    All the women in "A Shade Of Red" were photographed in their own space. “Mimi was photographed in her bedroom,” photographer Alyson Fox tells TODAY.com. “We talked about childhood stuffed animals.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Kaylan

    “Kaylan was shot in her apartment with her sister Laura”, Fox said. “I was immediately drawn to the patterns in her space and on the couch. I first met her at Lamberts, a restaurant in town [Austin, Texas]. She was our waitress.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Jessica and Sally

    The women featured in "A Shade Of Red" all had different reactions upon seeing their portraits. “I had some women who were like ‘You know, you really captured like, the defensive side of me’, and then they examined themselves a little bit differently which was interesting to hear,” Fox said. The two sisters featured in this photograph, “loved theirs, and actually asked for their image to give to their mom for Mother’s Day.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Mary

    Most of the subjects in "A Shade Of Red" were arranged through word of mouth, but Mary was an exception. Photographer Alyson Fox explains: “I was in Martha, Texas on vacation. She walked into the restaurant where we were having breakfast. She had this great pink vest and these blue glasses and I thought 'This is what I want to be like when I’m older.' I introduced myself and the project, and she invited me back to her daughter's house and I walked over and we chatted for a good hour and a half. I got to see her paintings and I got to hear about her studying art in the '40s. It was really fascinating.” (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Beatrice

    For Fox, talking to the women was just as important to the project as shooting the pictures. It was important to her capture something of the essence of the woman, her history, her narrative. “I just talked the whole entire hour and just photographed the women as we started to get to know each other,” she explains. Beatrice, the woman photographed in this picture, owns a silkscreen company and has recently moved to California. “When I look at each portrait I have a little bit of history or something personal in each woman.”

    For more information on "A Shade Of Red" click here.

    (A Shade of Red/Alyson Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
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