Makeup is my wig
UB student takes inspiration from Talia Castellano’s story
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 22:09
She could not verbalize anything. Laying in a hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and needles, bone-thin from not eating for five days, makeup blogger Talia Castellano held onto Lizzy Lenchner’s hand.
She opened her eyes for a few moments, looked at Lenchner and smirked. Castellano, 13, was falling victim to childhood cancer.
Castellano died two weeks later. The YouTube star met Lenchner, a junior psychology major, at Sunrise Day Camp, the only day camp in America dedicated to children with cancer. Lenchner was a counselor. The two became close. She learned important life lessons from Castellano, and she is adamant and determined to spread those to the UB community.
She has already made an impact with the help of her sorority.
Last fall, Lenchner held a philanthropy event for Phi Sigma Sigma to promote awareness of childhood cancer; it was the most successful Greek philanthropy event last year, raising over $2,000.
Lenchner said a lot of college students focus on partying as their “No. 1 priority.”
“They don’t realize there’s so much more to life than just that,” she said. “They need to see that people out there have it worse than them and your life can change in a heartbeat and you really need to appreciate what you have. And yeah, it’s important to live in the moment, but that’s not the only thing you should be doing.”
Castellano influenced millions; her YouTube account has more than 45 million views and 1 million subscribers. Before her death, she was featured in CoverGirl magazine and on Ellen Degeneres’ daytime talk show.
Castellano had neuroblastoma, the most common extra cranial solid in childhood cancer. Approximately 650 cases are recorded each year in America, according to Norman J. Lacayo, author of Pediatric Neuroblastoma.September is pediatric cancer awareness month.
Lenchner worked as a counselor at Sunrise Day Camp two summers before attending UB. Castellano made her way to Lenchner’s group. Lenchner did not expect her 11-year-old camper to completely alter the way she viewed the world.
Castellano latched onto Lenchner and fellow counselor Pamela Glassman.
“She would rather hang out with us than any of the other campers,” Lenchner said. “She was 11 years old hanging out with 18- and 20-year-olds and she was mature beyond her years.”
At the time, Castellano was just launching her YouTube account, in which she gave in-depth tutorials of applying mascara, eye shadow and other makeup, gave reviews of different types of makeup and shared her personality with everyone who viewed her series.
Castellano asked older girls at camp about their dating lives and was quick to give beauty advice, like what shade of lipstick would bring out Lenchner’s skin tone.
Victoria Putter, a Sunrise Day Camp counselor, said Castellano would put makeup on her head – most famously when she spelled out “makeup is my wig” – because she had no hair. She constantly wanted to do everyone else’s hair.
Castellano battled cancer for six years. She did not allow her disease to get in the way of her life, though – not at camp and not at home.
She was losing her hair due to the intensive chemotherapy, but she flaunted her passion for makeup, fashion and beauty. She did not let any negative comments keep her from posting her videos.
Castellano’s YouTube tutorials were getting more hits each week. During the beginning stages of her show, she only discussed makeup and fashion. After receiving many messages from fans asking why she was bald, Castellano decided to start incorporating her cancer story into the videos.
Lenchner said Castellano had a bit of sass and spunk, and she fearlessly shared details of her life with the world.