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One strong girl October 31, 2008

Posted by Amanda Kern in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Strength. It’s what lives inside us all – and what gives us the power and the courage to fight some of life’s toughest moments. Strength is what keeps Talia Castellano hanging on as she battles the rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Talia Castellano for the first time and I’m convinced she’s one tough cookie. I first learned of Talia last week when I received an email from Christy Perry, someone I had worked closely with on several design projects a few years back. As a dear friend of Talia’s family, Christy sent out several emails requesting platelet donations to help Talia.

Just a couple days earlier, before I was even aware of Talia’s fight with cancer, I had come across a web site for Max Mikulak who also battled neuroblastoma. The web site created by photographer, Deb Schwedhelm, was a photo journal documenting her personal experiences with the Mikulak family during Max’s experiences with cancer. I was moved by the web site – so much so that once I received Christy’s email there was no hesitation in proposing the idea of helping Talia through my ability to help her and her family much like Deb helped little Max. My hopes are that in creating this blog and photographing some experiences with Talia that others will stay informed and also find reason to help Talia more. There’s so much more that can still be done – and this little girl needs all our help.

After speaking with Talia’s mother, Desiree, I was even more motivated to help her little girl. Talia was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma on February 14th, 2007 and recently had a relapse of her cancer. She’s been in the hospital for about three weeks after having her last round of chemotherapy. I got to meet Talia and Desiree for the first time yesterday. When I first arrived Talia was resting. Desiree spent the first few minutes discussing Talia. I learned she loves to dance and draw. She enjoys fashion too. I also learned about her current health. I don’t know much about neuroblastoma but in hearing some of the results of her tests I was quite shocked. Her platelets from her tests on Wednesday showed that she only had 14 platelets. Yes, 14. The normal range is 150,000 – 450,000.

You might be asking, “Why Angels for Talia?” – well, you see Talia has found that angels are something special to her. She’s begun collecting angels recently. Once Talia awoke I gave her a new angel to add to her collection. After hearing Desiree speak of all the medical procedures Talia has already underwent, I have no doubt that there must be many angels looking over Talia.

Angel for Talia

With it being so close to Halloween, Talia watched Hocus Pocus while I continued to talk with her mother.

watching Hocus Pocus


While I was there Desiree received a phone call from the central Florida Blood bank. Apparently because of Talia, there was a great response which helped with the blood shortage in the area. In order to donate platelets directly to Talia, the donation must meet special criteria which you’ll only know you meet if you give blood.

while Mommy is on the phone

I could tell that Talia wasn’t feeling the best. I asked her if she wanted me to take a photo of her with her Mom before I left or the next time I visited. She said next time – and so we called it a day. Just before we left the nurse came in quite excited to inform Desiree that more platelets were on their way.

Some good news
I was thrilled to receive a phone call from Desiree this evening informing me that they were in the process of leaving the hospital. My fingers are crossed that I’ll be visiting them soon away from the hospital – I know they’re anxious to be back in their own home.

Until we meet again Talia – stay strong.