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A 13-year-old girl suffering from two types of cancer has been chosen as a model for beauty brand CoverGirl, after her blog and makeup tutorial videos gained international recognition and an appearance on US talk show Ellen.
Talia Joy Castellano was diagnosed with neuroblastoma six years ago and recently discovered she also has leukemia. She became interested in make-up when she lost her hair to chemotherapy and didn’t want to wear a wig.
"I don't like wigs, they're so, I dunno...When I have on a wig I feel, not fake, just not me", Talia says in one video. She started posting tutorials of her make-up looks online and has gained an army of followers, racking up more than 14 million views on her YouTube video blog.
"When I put on my make-up I feel like I can embrace those features that I really like about myself," she explains. "I feel if someone's looking at me, they're looking at my make-up, not looking at my bald head."
"I am just trying to make young girls, young adults, adults, anyone, feel beautiful by using makeup."
The brave teen appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ US talk show recently, where she was thrilled to meet the chat show host and was given a poster of her CoverGirl image.
In recent video posts, Talia has revealed to her fans that she has few treatment options left and is trying to decide whether to have a bone marrow transplant or not. Refusing the treatment would give her between four months and a year to live but she thinks after "so many surgeries it’s crazy" to put her body through another.
"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," she says in the video, showing wisdom well beyond her years.
"This is not fair to me anymore. I'm only 13. I shouldn't have to be doing this...it's really not fair for kids to have cancer. It really frickin sucks."
But she adds, "I've gotten so many benefits from [cancer]. Having a YouTube channel, having to inspire people and having people look up to me...I adore, I love make-up, using it as my wig...it's amazing...the journey of having cancer was amazing. But every journey has an end.
"Having cancer has been a gift, but it's a horrible, horrible thing."
Ellen was just as touched to meet Talia, telling the inspiring teen that she really was "quite something."
"There's a depth to your soul that is not a 13-year-old soul. You’re an old soul and you are very special and amazing, and I’m so honored that you wanted to meet me and that I got to meet you."