Desiree S. Anzalone, the great-granddaughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr., died at the age of 31 after a battle with breast cancer, PEOPLE reported. According to the outlet, Anzalone died a few weeks ago on September 27 at Smilow Cancer Center in Connecticut after battling stage 4 breast cancer. She was the only great-granddaughter of the late stars of I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz.
Her mother, Julia Arnaz, told PEOPLE that Anzalone died peacefully. She added:
Watching her slip away was just, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. No mother should have to watch that. She was so special. All our children are special, but this little girl was something else. We were [best friends]. We are still. She was so beautiful, just so so beautiful inside and out. She really, really reminded me a lot of my grandmother, more so than I.
Anzalone was born on September 15, 1989, in Norwalk, Connecticut, to Julia Arnaz and Mario Anzalone, according to her obituary. Her maternal grandfather was Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of the famous couple Ball and Arnaz. Anzalone is survived by her parents, her step-brothers and her fiance and caregiver, Chris Reynolds.
Anzalone Had Shared Some of Her Experiences With Cancer Following Her Diagnosis at Age 25
According to an article from Shared, Anzalone obtained a creative writing degree from the University of North Texas before becoming a professional photographer. Julia Arnaz, who wrote the obituary for her daughter along with Anzalone’s father, said it was incredibly difficult to write about her only child. In the obituary, she described Anzalone as an “old soul” and spoke about her artistic talent:
Her talent was prolific including her art, song writing, poetry & playing piano. She was a talented photographer & enjoyed playing guitar with her father, singing & modeling photography. Desiree was a lover of animals & people but most of all she loved life. She will be missed deeply by all but will live forever in our hearts.
Anzalone was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 25, according to PEOPLE. The young woman posted about her battle with cancer on Instagram, sharing updates about her hair growing back after chemo treatments and radiation. In 2015, she wrote, “Chemo #6 this past Friday. Feeling very loopy after a shot of Benadryl to the chest. Six down, TWO more to go. Very exciting days.”
Her mother told PEOPLE that Anzalone decided to get a double mastectomy after going through chemotherapy. She went into remission for a while, but her cancer returned two years ago, the outlet reported. At that point, it was stage 4 and it had spread to her bones, liver and lungs. Her mother said:
She probably would have been with us for a few more years — it was starting to spread a lot more, and the tumors were getting bigger — but we expected her to stay at least through the holidays. What went wrong is she kept getting fluid around her heart and then they kept doing surgeries and it would come back like two weeks later. And this time, they did the surgery and came back 12 hours later and [said], ‘You’ve got days, if hours.’ So that was really tough. I was there before that happened. It was unimaginable.
Anzalone’s Mother Posted a Tribute to Ball in 2018, Said She Was Pregnant With Anzalone When Ball Died
Anzalone’s mother, Julia Arnaz, never met her famous grandmother because she was estranged from her father for many years. She posted on the anniversary of Ball’s death that she always regretted never being able to meet Ball and that she found out about her grandmother’s death in 1989 while pregnant with Anzalone:
Anzalone also posted about her great-grandmother on Instagram, writing: “Celebrating the life of a legend and MY life’s most profound curiosity. Your energy emulates, still. I would have loved to meet a part of me in you” along with photos of Ball.