An incredible girl is teaching hundreds of thousands of Internet followers what courage means. Talia Joy Castellano, who turns 13 on August 18, was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that forms in the nerve cells, in 2007. Numerous rounds of chemotherapy eventually left her bald. Not a fan of wigs, she preferred to use cosmetics to feel pretty and confident--and developed some sophisticated skills. About a year and a half ago, she started a video blog channel featuring makeup tutorials and has uploaded over 150 videos so far. "I love makeup," she says, "using it as my wig." Her mom, Desiree, beams that her daughter "has made bald beautiful."
Castellano appears to be a normal, slightly hyper 'tween excited about her latest "fashion haul" and achieving the perfect "smoky eye" but she's also an exceptionally poised individual who speaks with candor and soulful intelligence about her disease. On Tuesday, through a blog entitled "idk what to say" she delivered the heartbreaking news that she's just been diagnosed with a second form of cancer, preleukemia, a disease that attacks the bone marrow. It may not be curable.
"I'm only 13, I shouldn't have to be doing this," she says. "No one should have to be doing this." Facing a choice that would leave most adults shattered, she calmly explains, "I'm going to decide whether or not I want to do the bone marrow transplant, or whether or not I just don't do it and live the time I have remaining." In addition to chemo, Castellano has already endured numerous surgeries, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. Recovering from a bone marrow transplant is an excruciating process. If it doesn't work, the bombardment of medical procedures can leave your immune system destroyed. However, forgoing treatment would mean she has only a few months to a year to live.
Castellano shares her news with grace and wisdom. There are no tears (from her at least, for the viewer it's another story). "Having cancer has been a gift--but a horrible, horrible' terrifying thing," she says. "But I've gotten so many benefits from it" -- from teaching herself to use makeup to boost her self-confidence so she "could go out to the grocery store without a wig" to inspiring fans of her videos.
She gently explains that while she's going to keep making videos, she's leaning toward living out the rest of her life without treatment. "The journey of having cancer was amazing. But, every journey has an end."
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