I will mourn Talia Castellano, but not Glee star

I’ve seen the depths of depression; I’ve contemplated the escape suicide provides. And while it’s easy to simply give up and propagate those feelings of despair, I instead reached out for a helping hand to guide me through a storm so many of us shoulder in life.

It was during this time of challenges and self-discovery that I learned how valuable life truly is. Yes, it can be a daunting road to travel at times, but as long as we’re living and breathing, regardless of age, there is always an opportunity to make a positive change and re-plot the course of our journey.

I’m reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa: “Life is too precious, do not destroy it.  Life is life, fight for it.”

A popular headline proliferating across the internet, print publications and news programs is the death of Canadian actor and Glee television star Cory Monteith.

It’s been determined that the 31-year-old died from “a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol” according to his autopsy. Thousands are mourning the loss – everyone but me that is and I’ll tell you why.

A headline you won’t find proliferating across the internet, print publications and news programs is the death of Talia Castellano. Many of you are probably wondering who she is, what television show she’s on or what popular song she sings.

Talia Castellano is an adorable 13-year-old girl who passed away this week. While perhaps not the kind of “celebrity” many of us worship, she garnered thousands of admirers and followers on her YouTube channel – and it’s not because of something ridiculous, but rather inspiring.
For half of her young life, Talia battled neuroblastoma – a nervous system cancer that is common in childhood, and is one of the most frequent causes of childhood cancer death.

Chemotherapy left her bald, but she wasn’t about to conceal it. Instead she walked around proudly – turning to makeup as a way to boost her self-esteem. She showed other cancer patients that you can still look and feel beautiful and that you shouldn’t be ashamed of the illness you are battling. In her young life she managed to leave an invaluable mark on the hearts of millions of people all over the world.

For young Talia I feel such sadness – for Cory I feel anger.

Talia did not ask for her disease. But instead of wallowing in her misfortunes, she decided to make a difference – to inspire others who are suffering and those who often take life for granted.

Cory decided not to reach out for a helping hand – abusing the gift of life that so many people afflicted with terminal diseases wish they had. It angers me that so many young people rarely think of the consequences associated with substance abuse – and I refuse to morn someone who essentially ended his life due to his own irresponsibility.

Good or bad, we can pull a lesson from everything in life. From Cory’s death, I hope people realize that covering up your problems with drugs and alcohol will not make them go away. You need to take responsibility for your choices and reach out for help when those choices have gotten you in a bind.

And as for young Talia, it saddens me that she will never know what it’s like to be an adult; to experience true love; to get married; to simply grow old. If there’s one story that deserves our attention, it is Talia’s. For in the face of death she found the strength to inspire others.

When Robin Roberts recently accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, she shared these words of wisdom from her mother: “Mama used to say, ‘Make your mess your message. Find the meaning behind whatever it is you’re going through because everybody’s got something.”

Rest in peace young Talia – you’ve certainly left your mark.


One thought on “I will mourn Talia Castellano, but not Glee star

  1. CJ…what a beautiful tribute to Talia! I saw several stories about this amazing child and it just rips my heart out every time. When I see stories like this I am reminded how fortunate I am that my son who battled cancer at a young age survived. I feel for the family of the courageous young girl as their loss must seem right now to be insurmountable.

    I hope her parents stumble across your beautiful article…I’m sure it would make them quite proud.

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