Talia's Story Update
Five years ago on Valentine’s Day doctors diagnosed Talia
Castellano with a form of childhood cancer called
Talia recalls, “You don’t think like oh my God I’m going to die.
It’s more like, I’m going lose my hair, I’m going be skinny, I’m
going to not be able to eat….I’m going to be in the hospital. I
can’t go to school. I can’t see my friends. “
Unfortunately, cancer has been a cruel component of this
vivacious little girl’s childhood ever since that fateful day.
She’s relapsed three times since February 14, 2007.
While most children are busy with school and playing with their
friends, Talia’s life consists of hospital stays, chemotherapy,
surgeries and countless blood and platelet transfusions.
Talia got to personally thank the donors that literally gave her
the gift of life during a multi-gallon donor appreciation event in
At the time she was in remission and she’s relapsed twice since
then. Talia is now a part of a clinical trial in which she takes a
time-released chemotherapy capsule every three weeks. Each time she
gets treatment she needs platelets from donors.
“It’s really, really incredible to think about your life
depending on someone just going and donating blood. It’s scary in a
way and thankful, you just feel mixed emotions when you really do
think about that and how it’s really up to you on whether or not
you want to go and donate blood.”
Talia’s not letting cancer get her down. She’s become an
internet sensation and more than one million people across the
globe have seen her online.
Talia began uploading YouTube makeup tutorials and they’ve
turned into videos of hope and inspiration. She said, “That’s what
I wanted to do was to make other young girls and adults, anyone
feel beautiful by using make-up and that’s my slogan that I use-
makeup is my wig because I don’t like wigs, they’re so….I don’t
know, when I have on a wig I feel so, not fake, but just not me and
so when I put on my makeup I feel like I can embrace those features
that I really like about myself and if someone’s looking at me
they’re looking at my makeup not looking at my bald head.”
Talia even teamed up with MAC Cosmetics and BASE Camp to host
the “Glam Wars”, a day of beauty make-overs for seven young girls
battling cancer. “What I felt lying in bed that night was…I don’t
know…passionate, grateful and accomplished. I felt good. I felt
good to know that I made seven other young girls going through what
I was going through feel amazing.”
Talia still has two spots on her lungs. Her mother, Desiree
Castellano says, “The spots are getting smaller and that’s a good
thing. Whether or not, they’ll always be there? We don’t know…it’s
a quality of life and the chemo that she’s having is working and
it’s a great quality of life, so that’s what we want and we’re just
going to hope for the best.”
Minute May 17, 2012
If you wake up with a cup of joe you may be doing more than
getting an energy rush….raising HDL cholesterol levels may not
lower your risk of heart attack ….and more teens are choosing not
to light up.
A cup of coffee a day may keep diseases at bay. A new study of
nearly half a million people finds coffee drinkers has a 10% lower
risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke,
accidents and injuries, diabetes and infections than non-coffee
drinkers. However, the risk of cancer remained the same.
Raising HDL or “good cholesterol” levels may not be doing much
when it comes to lowering risk of heart attack. That’s according to
a study from Harvard Medical School. Researchers say they found no
evidence that higher HDL levels reduce the risk of attack, but
lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol levels has significant impact on
heart attack risk. A good way to learn your total cholesterol level
is to donate blood.
A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration shows that the number of teens who smoke is
steadily declining. Researchers believe anti-smoking campaigns, tax
increases, higher cigarette prices and new smoking laws have led to
the decline. However, smoking remains the number one cause of
preventable death in the United States.
Benefits of Donating Blood
Did you know that you can reduce your risk of heart disease and
save a life at the same time? That’s right! According to studies
published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are
88% less likely to suffer a heart attack and 33% less likely to
suffer any type of cardiovascular event. Why is that? Well,
researchers aren’t 100% sure, but believe it may be due to either
one of two things.
The first theory is that blood donors must be considered
“healthy” before they roll up their sleeve, so they are less likely
to suffer heart disease because they are already in good health and
probably have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels that
The second theory is that iron has a significant impact on
atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When you give blood
you are removing 225 to 250 milligrams of iron from your system,
thus cutting your risk of heart disease.
Pre-menopausal women tend to have half of the amount of iron as
men because they lose iron every month through menstruation.
Coincidentally, they also suffer half as many heart attacks.
However, once a woman goes through menopause her risk of heart
attack increases, but donating blood can reduce that risk.
In addition to depleting iron levels, when you donate blood we
give you a free mini-physical and let you know your blood pressure
as well as you cholesterol levels-two major risk factors when it
comes to heart disease.
While scientists are researching why donating blood reduces the
risk of heart attack, one thing is clear-donating blood has many
benefits to the donor as well as the recipient. So, if you want to
pick up a healthy habit, head over to your local blood center and
give the gift of life.
Minute May 9, 2012
Simulating human blood is paving the way for personalized
medicine….living too close to a highway may increase death risk for
heart attack survivors and if you drive more than 15 miles to work
you may be more likely to become obese.
A team of biomedical engineers and hematologists at the
University of Pennsylvania created a program that simulates
patient-specific blood function. Their work, which was published in
the journal Blood, shows how clots form in different
patients. Clots normally prevent bleeding, but they can also cause
heart attacks when they form in plaque-laden coronary arteries.
Because platelets differ from person to person this development
will help determine which drugs will be the most effective for
According to a new study published in the journal
Circulation, heart attack survivors living less than 100
meters from a roadway have a 27 percent higher risk of dying within
ten years than their counterparts who live at least 1,000 meters
from the street. Researchers believe exposure to ambient fine
particle matter, air pollution and even noise from traffic could be
And a recent study published in the American Journal of
Preventative Medicine found people who commute more than 15
miles to work were more likely to be obese and carry fat around the
middle, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Though the study
can’t prove that commuting directly causes obesity, researchers say
sitting for long periods of time, whether it be in a car, in front
of a computer or on a couch can be dangerous for your health.
Attack Warning Signs
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women, but
they often have different symptoms. We’ve all seen those scenes in
the movies and on television where a man will clutch his chest and
fall to the ground because he’s having a heart attack. Well, real
life isn’t always like the movies.
Yes, sometimes a heart attack is sudden and intense, but many
heart attacks begin slowly with mild pain or discomfort. In fact,
many people don’t realize they’re having a heart attack and often
wait too long before getting help.
Signs to watch out for include:
· Discomfort in
other areas of the upper body, such as in the arms, the back, neck,
jaw or stomach.
· Shortness of
· Cold Sweat
While these symptoms can apply to both men and women, women can
experience a heart attack without chest pressure. Instead,
they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the
lower chest or abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting,
upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.
In fact, many women chalk up their symptoms to conditions such
as acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.
If these symptoms do not go away in five minute, call 9-11
immediately for emergency medical transport to a hospital. Do not
drive yourself. Thousands of American die each year because they
did not seek medical attention in time.
Knowing your numbers, exercising and eating healthy can greatly
reduce your risk of a heart attack. It’s really important to call
9-11 immediately if you think you are suffering a heart attack.
Florida’s Blood Centers, Orlando Health and the American Heart
Association have joined forces to reduce the number of deaths
caused by heart disease.
Do you know your numbers? Florida’s Blood Centers, Orlando
Health and the American Heart Association have joined forces for
the Go Red For Women initiative. The three entities want women to
know their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglycerides as
well as they know their dress size.
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance produced by the liver.
Too much cholesterol can block arteries and cause them to deliver
less blood to your body which leads to heart damage and even
failure. Cutting your cholesterol intake to 300mg per day can
greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy total
cholesterol is less than 200mg per deciliter of blood.
Blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for
heart disease. High blood pressure means the blood running through
your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your
arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing
The American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure
reading of 120/80 or below.
Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fats exist in
food as well as in the body. The calories you eat that are not
immediately used by tissues are converted to triglycerides and
transported to fat cells to be stored. Excess triglycerides can
lead to cardiovascular disease and that’s why the American Heart
Association recommends triglycerides be less than 150 mg per
deciliter of blood.
Finding out your numbers can be as simple as donating blood.
Each time you roll up your sleeve we give you a free mini-physical
that measures blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
You can access your risk of heart disease by taking these
numbers and plugging them into the
American Heart Association’s Heart Attack Risk Assessment
The American Heart Association will assess your risk and give
you a print out that you can take to your doctor to discuss the
results and map out a heart attack prevention plan.
Knowing your numbers like you know your dress size all begins
with giving the gift of life.
Cares for Joey Yannucci
The photos from the March 26, 2012 school bus accident in Saint
Lucie County are horrific. The crash killed on student and
critically injured five others from Frances K. Sweet Elementary
Fifth grader Joey Yannucci was among those injured. He suffered
a traumatic brain injury and spent weeks in a coma. Blood from
donors helped him sustain life.
Joey’s grandmother says she is grateful to those that donated
the blood her grandson received and she was among the first to roll
up her sleeve at the Joey Yannucci fundraiser and blood drive
hosted by the Van Duzer Foundation.
Hundreds of Saint Lucie County residents gathered at Big Apple
Pizza to show their support for the Yannucci family. Many of Joey’s
friends, classmates and family members wore “Team Joey” t-shirts
and waited more than two hours to purchase food and have the
proceeds go to the Yannucci’s.
Frances K. Sweet Principal Juanita Wright described Joey as a
shining star. She said he is the student body council president,
head of the safety patrol and an honor student. Like more than 100
others, Wright climbed on the Big Red Bus and gave the gift of life
in honor of Joey.
Many blood donors didn’t know Joey or his family, but say the
accident touched the entire community.
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and the Van Duzer Foundation
helped raise more than $17,000 for the Yannucci’s and helped save
more than 370 lives in honor of Joey.
Minute April 18, 2012
Skin Cancer is on the rise in young adults and feeding tubes are
being used to help people lose weight.
According to the Mayo Clinic the rate of melanoma among men
quadrupled over the past 40 years and increased eightfold among
women. Why is that? Well, dermatologists say indoor tanning and
failing to protect children again sunburns may be to blame.
Researchers say people who use indoor tanning beds are 74
percent more likely to get melanoma than non-indoor tanners.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is expected to
kill nearly ten thousand Americans this year alone.
Doctors recommend limiting sun exposure, use sunscreen and check
for moles using the ABCDE method: asymmetry, a border that’s
blurred or irregular, colors that are varied within the same mole,
a diameter that’s more than a pencil eraser and elevation or
evolution- signs that a mole is raised or changing shape.
Feeding tubes are nutritional lifelines for patients who cannot
swallow, but now some women are turning to these medical devices to
shed pounds quickly.
The only nourishment a patient receives is K-E diet powder…an
infusion of proteins and fats, with no carbohydrates…mixed with
The patient only takes in 800 calories a day, but the infusion
is constant and curbs hunger.
Most people lose about two pounds per day for a total of 20
pounds over a 10 day treatment period.
Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Dieticians say getting
only 800 calories a day is low for anyone, but getting them from
lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats is very
different than getting them from a feeding tube.
Minute April 12, 2012
Getting frequent dental x-rays may cause brain tumors… out of
whack sleeping habits can lead to diabetes… and obese mothers may
be more likely to give birth to autistic children.
According to the study found in the journal Cancer,
exposure to ionizing radiation, the kind that’s found in x-rays, is
the largest known environmental risk factor for the most frequently
diagnosed brain tumors in America.
While researchers say these findings should not keep people from
visiting the dentist, they may want to have dental x-rays every two
to three years, which is the recommended amount for healthy
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that
fighting the body’s natural sleep patterns can increase the risk of
The researchers found within a few days of disrupted sleep,
glucose levels become very high because of decreased insulin
released in the pancreas.
The good news is that the symptoms disappeared in their study
participants within about a week and a half of normal sleeping and
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds obese
women are more likely to give birth to an autistic child. In fact,
researchers found the risk of autism increased by 70 percent when
mothers were obese during their pregnancies and the risk of having
a baby with some form of neurodevelopmental disorder doubled.
Colonial High School Principal Doug Loftus takes great pride in
his school and in his students. He especially enjoys seeing them
give back to the community in the form of blood donation.
Blood donation is personal for Principal Loftus because he is a
Doctors diagnosed Loftus with a brain tumor in 2008. Though it
was benign, the tumor had to be removed and he required several
blood transfusions during the operation.
Loftus says, “My neurosurgeon said that he had the easy part and
I thought how did he have the easy part? He’s the one going into my
brain and digging out my tumor and I finally realized that he was
correct. The hard part was on my end and the recovery was very,
very time consuming. I was always fatigued, always tired, always
sleeping because of the trauma of my brain.”
Loftus was tough. He went through a grueling recovery process
and is back at school. He says he feels a lot better today and
credits blood donors for giving him the gift of life.