Talia Joy Castellano Dead: Ellen DeGeneres Mourns Cancer-Fighting YouTube Star, 13
Talia Joy Castellano -- the bubbly, beautiful YouTube sensation whose makeup tutorials inspired hundreds of thousands of subscribers and earned her a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show -- died Tuesday, July 16, following a six-year battle with cancer. She was 13 years old.
"Talia left us to be with the angels today," her family told Us in a statement. "We were fortunate to call her 'Ours' and honored to have shared in her amazing life's journey. Even though this void will never be filled, she will continue to live in our hearts forever. We thank everyone for their support in this extremely difficult time."
A heartfelt message was also posted on her Facebook shortly after news broke of her death.
"It is with a heavy heart that we share with all of you that Talia earned her wings at 11:22 a.m.," a message on her official Facebook page read. "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 here with us," the post continued. "We will miss you more than you will ever know, baby girl."
Castellano, who was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma when she was just 7 years old, started using makeup "as a wig" shortly after she found out she was sick. In July 2011, she began filming makeup tutorials in her bedroom -- short, how-to videos for the glam, colorful looks she invented. Within months, she had hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views on her more than 150 YouTube clips.
As her following grew, so did her fame. Last year, after the inspiring teen revealed she had been diagnosed with leukemia (in addition to the neuroblastoma she had already been fighting), fans started a grassroots campaign to make her dream of meeting Ellen DeGeneres come true. DeGeneres eventually took notice, and in September 2012, Castellano appeared on the comedian's talk show.
"You really are quite something. There's a depth to your soul that is not a 13-year-old soul," DeGeneres told Castellano, who has called cancer an "amazing journey" for what it brought to her life. "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."
DeGeneres, a CoverGirl spokesperson, then surprised Castellano with her very own CoverGirl ad. "You're an honorary Cover Girl!" the host announced.
After the teen's passing on July 16, DeGeneres took to Twitter to express her condolences. "I met a very special girl, and today we lost her," she wrote. "Sending my heart to Talia's family. I'm so sad."