Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Year Ago This Month Talia Joy Castellano Passed Away - A Tribute Post

I have been thinking about doing this post for a long time and I've been putting it off this whole month, partly because couldn't find the time and partly because I didn't know if I could write anything worth reading. Writing about emotionally charged topics like children with cancer and those who have passed away too young is not really something I feel comfortable with. I mean, I've had a lot of experience blogging but most of that has been very technical writing about things and not really about people. I will warn you ahead of time that what I lack in feeling and experience I make up for with walls of text and this will be a long post. If you want something easier to digest scroll towards the bottom of this page and check out the images. They are all screenshots from Talia's youtube videos and clicking them will take you directly to those videos, I'm using screenshots because embedding several videos seems to slowdown this blogs loading time.

Talia Joy Castellano was a young girl that battled from the age of seven. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma a rare but deadly pediatric cancer on February 14, 2007. The average age of diagnosis for this type of cancer is under age two so it is very possible that she has this growing in her body for years before it was noticed. Many parents who cross paths with this disease see their children pass away at a very early age. Those children that live into their teen years as Talia did have to endure many chemo treatments, countless drugs with horrible side effects and often month long stays in the hospital while enduring these harsh treatments. All of this extends the length of their lives but they often suffer greatly for these extra years. If treatments like this didn't exist there is no doubt these children would die at much earlier ages. Then too, many of them do beat this disease, but often that has to do with the type of neuroblastoma these children have. As I always try to tell people there are hundreds of different types of cancer and even then there are subtypes. It's a very complex problem to solve involving genetic mutation, immune system response and each persons particular biology.

In America alone nearly 1,000 children a year are diagnosed with neuroblastoma every year. About 10 percent of all cancer diagnosis in children worldwide are for neuroblastoma. The survival rate for high risk children is under 50 percent.

This is the same childhood cancer that world community grid has been working on with their data crunching programs and there is a strong optimism among the researchers associated with this project that they may have found a candidate drug that may be the future cure for this form of cancer that kills so many children every year. This is why I try to push people to run the grid program on their computers. In the future many new cures for a variety of disease will be found both by big data and by home based computer users like you that are sharing their cpu power to make the world better.

Talia touched a lot of people in her short life. She started her YouTube channel way back in July of 2011. She started doing makeup tutorial early on with cancer vlogs that update her subscribers with her progress in dealing with her disease. She also had a popular Facebook page that is still growing today and an instagram. Her YouTube channel started out with just a few fans but grew to close to a million subscribers before her death and is still growing today. Her family and friends carry on her legacy through social media and raise money and awareness for her favorite cancer charities.

The Images Below Go Directly To Talia's YouTube Videos

This was the first video Talia uploaded on her channel. She was just a skinny little kid having fun at a school dance just like any girl her age accept she was dealing with a horrible disease and rounds of chemotherapy that no human being should have to endure, much less a 10-11 year old child. I think we know who one this dance off, all you have to do is listen to the crowd response to Talia's moves.

This was her first ever makeup tutorial video. She showing off her eyeliner skills. She learned most of her early makeup techniques from her mother who is a professional makeup artist, even so you can see the natural talent she was exhibiting for it as well as her positive outlook. Talia almost always had a smile on her face for her fans no matter what she was going through in her struggle with cancer.

Talia doing a homecoming or Prom hair tutorial with her sister. Sadly she did not get to enjoy her high school prom or homecoming as she passed away before the age of 14. In fact she did not get to enjoy the experience of high school at all nor do her friends get to enjoy her companionship and exuberant personality as they now move into those wonderful years of growth and first experiences. Really, when you think about it being a teenager is pure joy, the happiest time in your life. We may all say that high school sucks or that we couldn't wait to grow up but if we all take the time to reflect we have to admit to ourselves that our mid to late teen years are the best time in our lives.Talia did not get to experience this time in her life and that is just so wrong.

I guess this would be Talia's first makeup unboxing video. You can already see that she has a talent for story telling and a very expressive face. Latter on she would gets tons of free makeup from fans and whole kits from major retailers. Pretty much ever well known manufacturer in the industry sent her free kits and samples at one point. She didn't receive these gifts just because she was a kid dealing with cancer but also because of her incredibly charismatic personality. If I was selling a product I would definitely want her pushing it.

It's hard to believe that Talia would be gone less than a year after making this video. I'm skipping past a lot of her makeup videos here and moving toward the time in her life when she was starting to get a lot of fans and would soon have major media attention. This was also a time when the prognosis for her disease did not look good. She now had two forms of cancer, neuroblastoma and leukemia. She new she didn't have much time left but at the same time she still had hope that she might make it through somehow. There is a lot of weight on her shoulders at this point in her life. It's really difficult to watch this video and not get upset.

Talia asks her fans to help her meet Ellen and they deliver. Thousands of messages and emails are sent through social media and Ellen responds. Talia gets to meet one of her icons and is presented with a twenty thousand dollar check from covergirl.

By this point Talia is a well seasoned makeup Guru. She has skills with an eyeliner pencil and eyelash brush that girls twice her age don't possess yet. I think it's safe to say that she would have become a very successful makeup artist had she been allowed to grow up. When you watch her tutorial videos it's hard to believe she is even a kid that's dealing with the horrors of cancer. Makeup seemed to be her best medicine.

All the fun things Talia got to do while she was on her way to meet Ellen, She rides a plane, enjoys a tour bus and visits the walk of fame. I like this video because I think she is having the most fun I have ever seen her have.

I love this video because it shows Talia enjoying something that every kid that lives in Florida enjoys, going to Disney World. Unfortunately Talia's little British friend pictured beside her in the car passed away not too long after she did.

This is the hardest video to watch because it was the last one Talia made. She would be gone less than two months after she posted it and all that time would be spent in the hospital. There are newer videos on her channel but as I understand it all of that is older material she filmed. This really was the last video she gave to us and I have to think she knew she couldn't do it anymore and didn't want us to see her getting worse. It was incredible that she shared what she did with us though, we got a window into her life and got to see what it is really like for a kid to endure this disease.

I won't spam my world community grid links on this post. You can find those all over my blog anyway. Besides, I made this video timeline as more of a tribute to her life but if you aren't doing something to further cancer research you really should. The fact is there really isn't that much money going towards cancer research. We spent way more money on the defense budget than we do on all disease research put together. What's even worse is that less than 4 percent of cancer research funds go to children's cancer research. The main reason for this is probably the fact that most people that get cancer are over 40 years old but I can't help thinking that the numbers should be turned the other way when you see kids like Talia.

I followed this young lady and her family for a long time while she battled with this disease. I pushed her videos and shared them through all my social media. I even donated a small amount of money to the causes she fought for. I did what I could but I know it wasn't much. I think we all need to try and help in this fight. The future is bright no matter what people tell you. It may seem like there are dark times ahead but they never last. Things always get better. Look back 50 years and you will always see you are living in a better time than before, technology and science are not the enemy. Use the tools that are sitting right in front of you. Everyone of us can make a difference in the world and make things better for the next Talia Joy.

1 comment:

  1. Tragedy strikes again. I wish there was a way to take the pain away.