Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz

The family of comedic legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are in mourning right now after the icons’ only great-granddaughter died of breast cancer at the age of 31. 

Ball And Arnaz’s Only Great-Granddaughter Dies At 31

Desiree Anzalone reportedly died at Smilow Cancer Center in Connecticut on September 27, her family confirmed to People Magazine this past weekend. Desiree’s mom, Julia Arnaz, is Desi Arnaz Jr.’s daughter. 

Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of the legendary stars of the sitcom “I Love Lucy,” had Julia when he was just 17 years old. It is unclear if Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball knew about their first grandchild. Lucy  died in 1989, the same year her first great-grandchild Desiree was born. And, Desi Sr. died in 1986, five years before Julia’s paternity was confirmed.

Julia, 51, spoke out to say that while he she was grateful that her daughter died “peacefully,” it was not easy to watch her go. She said that “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,” she adds. “We were [best friends]. We are still,” Julia said of her only child, who she lovingly described as “my mini me.”

The grieving mother went on to say that Anzalone had many similarities to Ball, whose middle name was Desiree. 

“She was so beautiful, just so so beautiful inside and out,” Julia explained. “She really, really reminded me a lot of my grandmother, more so than I.”

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Anzalone’s Cancer Battle

Born in 1989, Anzalone was only 25 years old when she was first diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2014. She did everything she could to fight the disease, undergoing chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, and she eventually went into remission. 

Sadly, Anzalone’s cancer came back in 2018. Doctors told her it was now stage 4. By the time they caught it, the cancer had already spread to Anzalone’s 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,” Julia said.

“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,” she added. “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.”

Making this even worse was the fact that because of the coronavirus pandemic, Julia did not get to spend as much time with Anzalone in her final months as she would have liked. 

“The COVID-19 kept us apart, so I wasn’t able to see her as much as I usually do because she was compromised and I didn’t want her getting sick in any kind of way,” Julia explained. “So I wasn’t able to spend as much time with her as I normally do because of the COVID since March. I mean, I saw her, but not as much; we’d hang out every day practically she was here. Plus, she lived with me for a while.”

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Anzalone Wanted To Raise Awareness

Julia also said that it was important to Anzalone “to give awareness for young girls her age because this does happen. 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.”

She though her daughter getting breast cancer at such a young age “was a rare case,” it “does happen.”

“It’s just not talked about a lot. It’s usually people in their late 30s, 40s, 50s — not somebody at this age,” Julia said. “So that was something that she really wanted — to help other women like her. A preventative, really.”

Though she deeply misses her daughter, Julia has found comfort in knowing her little girl is at peace.

“I hope she comes to visit me from time to time,” Julia said. ‘Now she can travel all those places she wanted to see, but just come see me from time to time. She wanted to see so many places and so many things. And she wasn’t able to do that.”

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