Teenage “Cover Girl” Loses Cancer Battle

Talia Castellano has been an inspiration for millions of viewers. The 13-year-old became a YouTube sensation with her video makeup reviews and tutorials.

What made her so remarkable was that Talia had been dealing with a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma for over six years.

Unfortunately the sad news came today that Talia lost her battle with that illness. Her Facebook page, Angels for Talia, posted this message:

It is with a heavy heart that we share with all of you that Talia has earned her wings at 11:22am. Please lift her beautiful soul, her beautiful light to heaven and please send your love and prayers to her family during this most difficult time. God speed little one, may you be free from pain and suffering, may your soul feel the light and love that you brought to so many of us on this Earth during the short time you were her with us. We will miss you more than you will ever know baby girl.

Last year, Talia revealed that the cancer had spread to her bone marrow. Despite this, Talia continued to produce her videos, not only to spread her knowledge of makeup, but also to bring awareness to childhood cancer, and to promote her favorite charity: the CureSearch Walk, an organization to raise money for clinical trials at local hospitals.

Last September, Talia came to the attention of “Cover Girl” Ellen Degeneres. She was so inspired by Talia’s story that she brought her to her daytime show and surprised her by naming her an honorary Cover Girl, complete with her own Cover Girl magazine cover. Ellen also sent Talia to the  iHeartRadio Music Festival as a special correspondent where she got to interview many of the performers, including Usher, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus.

When Ellen learned about Talia’s passing, she Tweeted:

ellen tweet talia


What is Neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord.

adrenalsNeuroblastoma often begins in the nerve tissue of the adrenal glands (see right). There are two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney in the back of the upper abdomen. The adrenal glands make important hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and the way the body reacts to stress. Neuroblastoma may also begin in the abdomen, in the chest, in nerve tissue near the spine in the neck, or in the spinal cord.

Neuroblastoma most often begins during early childhood, usually in children younger than 5 years. It sometimes forms before birth but is usually found later, when the tumor begins to grow and cause symptoms. In rare cases, neuroblastoma may be found before birth by fetal ultrasound.

By the time neuroblastoma is diagnosed, the cancer has usually metastasized (spread), most often to the lymph nodes, bones, bone marrow, liver, and skin.

The most common symptoms are

  • A lump in the abdomen, neck or chest
  • Bulging eyes
  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • Bone pain
  • Swollen stomach and trouble breathing in babies
  • Painless, bluish lumps under the skin in babies
  • Inability to move a body part

Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy, or a combination. Biologic therapy boosts your body’s own ability to fight cancer.

More for information about neuroblastoma, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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