Wednesday, August 15, 2012

12-Year Old With Cancer Inspires On YouTube With Make-Up Tutorials

Talia Joy Castellano
When someone finds out you have cancer words like "courageous" and "strong" get thrown around to describe you. But when you watch the inspiring videos on YouTube by 12-year old Talia Joy Castellano it's "moxie" or "fierce" that first spring to mind.

In 2007, Talia was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a form of cancer which develops from nerve tissue and is most commonly seen in children under the age of 5. Researchers are unsure as to how and why it develops and often by the time it is discovered, the cancer has already spread.

Like most patients, Talia lost all of her hair when she began chemotherapy. She eschews wearing a wig, preferring make-up instead to detract from her baldness, and now the plucky, confident 7th grader offers tips on how to apply blush, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick to over 100,000 subscribers on her channel, taliajoy18.

Her lessons are peppered with lots of "likes" and "yeahs" typical to any kid her age but don't let that fool you; Talia delivers her advice with as much deftness and artistry as any hardcore professional I've witnessed backstage during Fashion Week.

Unfortunately, all the glitter and gloss belies a very grim reality for the wise-beyond-her-years internet star. On August 2nd, in her video titled Vlog: Bad News, Talia tells her fans that she has recently developed pre-leukemia; a cancer affecting her bone marrow. The combination of her two aggressive cancers is rare and a bone marrow transplant is one of the only treatment options available. The procedure is grueling however, and with all that this young tween has already endured she candidly states in her follow-up episode Vlog: IDK, what to say :(, "right now...I'm leaning towards not doing it."

Without treatment, Talia's decision would give her only four months to one year more to live.

In the meantime, she says she'll continue making videos and assesses her short-life so far with the introspection, candor, and maturity that left black streaks running down my face.
"Having cancer has been a gift yet a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing but I've gotten so many benefits from it...Having a YouTube channel, [inspiring] people, and having people look up to me...explaining to you guys how I love and adore's just amazing. But every journey has an end. I really, really hope you guys understand what I'm saying, and understand where I'm coming from."  
Talia's vehicle may be cosmetics, but her poignant message is beyond skin-deep: find joy in the things you love, find ways to make yourself feel happy and alive, and play the hand you've been dealt even when the odds favor the house.

Remember she's only 12.

In honor of Talia, go buy yourself a tube of Chanel's Rouge Coco, take yourself to a new restaurant you've been hankering to try, and stop worrying about all the stupid errands that won't get done today.