UPDATE: July 17, 2013

This post was written last year when we had the incredible honor of telling Talia’s story. It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that yesterday, July 16, 2013, Talia passed away. This magnificent young woman will forever remain in the hearts of so many of us who were touched by her fearless power and beautiful spirit. RIP little one.

Meet Talia Joy Castellano, a 12 year old who loves fashion, dancing, her family and dog Bella. The aspiring makeup artist can already work brushes and color like a seasoned pro, a prodigious talent the charismatic, larger-than-life, vlog star shares with the world, via the almost 150 makeup tutorials she has posted on her You Tube Channel. Today kicks off Talia’s birthday week; she turns 13 this Saturday, August 18th. In celebration, friends, fans and perfect strangers are encouraged to switch their social media profile pictures to her beautiful face this week… and for very good reason.

Talia has been battling cancer for nearly six years after being diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma on February 14, 2007. Her journey has involved multiple surgeries, hospital stays, lab tests, toxic chemo treatments (for the better part of 5 years), bouncing her back and forth between being cancer free and experiencing multiple relapses. But, she has let none of it get in her way or define who she is.

Rather, Talia fights on, rises up and uses makeup as her confidence building weapon of choice, while proudly sporting her beautiful bald head. She wrote on her Make-upisMYwig YouTube page, “I don’t like wearing wigs so I wear makeup to feel good and pretty inside – and I guess outside.” Her makeup tutorials and other video posts help others feel the same way and have inspired legions of fans, which is clear based on the some 130,000 YouTube Channel subscribers she has amassed and the almost 9.5 million views her videos have received.

Talia Doing MakeupLast week, in a moving August 7th video post, Talia announced that she has developed pre-leukemia or the start of leukemia in her bone marrow. Having neuroblastoma and leukemia at the same time is extremely rare and there is not much in the way of treatment, barring a grueling bone marrow transplant that offers no guarantees and low chances of survival. If she opts for no treatment, her doctors anticipate Talia will have about 4 months to a year left to live.

As she stares warmly into her laptop camera, making a personal connection with anyone who is watching, 12 year old Talia delivers her grim message very bravely and matter-of-factly. With her ever present smile on her face, she even appeals to her fans and friends to not “freak out” upon hearing her new prognosis. While she personally processes the enormous mental and emotional magnitude of the finality of her own young life, she very compassionately and selflessly attempts to ease her viewers’ pain and help them wrap their heads around her news. It’s deeply heartbreaking to watch, but inspiring at the same time. Talia’s openness and frank attitude are incredibly inspiring displays of this very young girl’s strength, maturity and perspective that go well beyond her years. She closes the video by profoundly saying, “Having cancer has been an amazing yet horrible journey but every journey has an end.”

In celebration of her 13th birthday, Women You Should Know is doing what we can to help make Talia’s birthday just a little more special as we proudly have her gorgeous face as our Facebook profile picture and have it up on our Pinterest page all this week. It’s a small gesture to acknowledge how important it is to be a part of someone else’s journey with cancer.

If you are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., we urge you all to do the same. You can find pictures of Talia to use on her Facebook page.

Happy 13th Birthday To Young Woman You Should Know Talia! You inspire us.