Desiree Anzalone, the great-granddaughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr., has died from breast cancer. She was just 31.
Desiree’s mother Julia Arnaz, one of Desi Arnaz Jr.’s two children, confirmed the news to People on Friday. While Desiree died “peacefully,” Julia told the magazine “watching her slip away was just, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. No mother should have to watch that.”
Julia noted that Desiree — a photographer, model and singer — reminded her of the famed I Love Lucy actress.
“She was so beautiful, just so so beautiful inside and out,” Julia revealed. “She really, really reminded me a lot of my grandmother, more so than I.”
Desiree was the first great-grandchild and only great-granddaughter of the iconic actors. Her maternal grandfather Desi Arnaz Jr. is one of two children Ball and Arnaz Sr. shared.
“She was so special. All our children are special, but this little girl was something else,” Julia added. “We were [best friends]. We are still.”
Desiree acknowledged her famous lineage on social media, sharing a screenshot of an Epoch Times article last year about her and Ball’s similarities.
“Such a nice article wrote about me, and how Lucy and I share the same gumption in regards to my fight with stage 4 breast cancer and how proud she’d be of me,” Desiree said, before calling out the haters who disagreed they bore a resemblance.
“These comments are so ridiculous, and sad, like calm down people. I promise it’s going to be okay. No need to get so angry. Too many shallow human beings out there,” she added. “I have acknowledged my entire life I do not resemble my great grandma, but rather have more of the Arnaz genes. So thank you all for stating the obvious.”
Desiree was first diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 25. She was in remission for a few years after chemotherapy. She also got a double mastectomy. Two years ago, she learned her cancer returned as stage 4 and had spread to her liver, lungs and bones.
“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,” Julia told People. “I was there before that happened. It was unimaginable.”
Desiree hoped to raise awareness for young girls that breast cancer can happen at any age.
“It’s rare, but it does happen. And Desiree wanted to put awareness out for if you feel anything, just because you’re a certain age doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to somebody,” Julia explained.
“It’s just not talked about a lot. It’s usually people in their late 30s, 40s, 50s — not somebody at this age,” she continued. “So that was something that she really wanted — to help other women like her. A preventative, really.”
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