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Talia Joy was a YouTuber known for her makeup tutorial videos and personal vlogs chronicling her battle with two separate cancers, neuroblastoma and pre-leukemia. She passed away on July 16th, 2013.
Talia Joy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common childhood cancer, on February 14th, 2007. On August 17th, 2010, the Facebook fan page Angels for Talia was created to share photos and updates from her cancer treatment in New York City with friends and family back home in Florida. The page gained more than 1,500 likes within three months and accrued more than 341,000 fans as of July 2013. Talia created her YouTube channel on July 12th, 2011, uploading her first video (shown below, left) sixteen days later, depicting her participating in a dance-off with a fellow fifth-grader at a school dance. On August 27th, she uploaded her first makeup video (shown below, right), showing her and her friend doing a fantasy eyeliner look.
In September 2011, she launched her personal website and she steadily continued to gain fans on YouTube and Facebook throughout 2011 and early 2012, gaining more than 100,000 YouTube subscribers by August 2012. On August 7th, 2012, Talia uploaded a vlog (shown below) announcing that she had been diagnosed with a second type of cancer and was facing the choice of whether or not to pursue a bone marrow transplant that was not guaranteed to work. She explained that she decided not to seek the treatment, to which doctors gave her four months to a year to live.
The day after this vlog was posted, a number of news outlets and beauty blogs began to pick up on her story, including Jezebel, Refinery29, Styleite, the Daily Mail, ABC News. That week, Talia’s videos were also shared on What’s Trending, NY Daily News, MSN Now, Before It’s News, Fox News Latino, CBS News, San Franciso Gate and NBC Latino.
On August 10th, 2012, a video (shown below, left) containing a clip from the documentary The Truth 365 was uploaded to Talia’s channel asking fans to help fulfill her dream of meeting talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. On September 13th, 2012, Talia was invited as a guest on DeGeneres’ daytime talk show Ellen, where she was named an honorary Cover Girl by the makeup brand of the same name (shown below, right). Video from this appearance was shared on the Huffington Post, NBC Latino, MTV Act and the Daily Mail.
On April 24th, Talia was admitted into the hospital with nausea and pain. After conducting tests, doctors found that her cancer had spread through more of her bones and by early May, her official Facebook page confirmed there were no options left. As her health began to deteriorate, family, friends and fans turned to social media with the hashtag #prayfortalia, which was used on Twitter more than 268,000 times between June and July 2013 according to Topsy Analytics. On July 10th, Talia’s sister Mattia uploaded a photo of Talia’s bucket list (shown below) to her Instagram, asking fans to complete these actions in honor of her sister using the hashtag #TaliasBucketList.
People on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram began submitting photos of themselves completing Talia’s tasks, which were later compiled into a Facebook photo album. Some of these tasks included using body paint (shown below, left), sending a message in a bottle (shown below, center) and having an “outdoor day” (shown below, right). Within a week, the hashtag had been used on Twitter more than 5,400 times and Instagram more than 2,100 times. On July 10th, New Media Rockstars reported on the hashtag.
On July 16th, 2013, the Angels for Talia Facebook page announced that Talia had passed away that morning. Within 5 hours, the post had received more than 146,000 likes, 42,000 shares and 28,000 comments. The post was linked on the /r/MakeupAddiction subreddit where it received more than 1,900 upvotes, 1,400 points overall and 120 comments within 5 hours. Her death was reported by a number of news outlets, internet culture blogs and style magazines including the Today Show, New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, Boing Boing, the Inquisitr, New Media Rockstars, People Style Watch and E! Online. Additionally, Ellen expressed her grief over the loss via Twitter.
Talia Joy Castellano was born on August 18th, 1999 in Florida. Despite her cancer diagnosis, she uploaded 246 videos to her YouTube channel in two years, averaging approximately 62,000 views per day. Outside of YouTube, she maintained personal accounts on Twitter and Instagram, where she had more than 192,000 followers and 2.3 million followers respectively.