Updated August 12, 2020 - 8:41 am
Daniel Anzalone had never tried online dating before, but in January it led him to his now-wife, Alysia Mathis.
Anzalone said the two had both downloaded the app, the name of which he can’t remember, for the first time and met each other on the first day they had it.
“We talked for just about 16 straight hours the first day and we both deleted the app about two days after we met each other,” he said. “I think it’s because the app didn’t matter anymore and it worked the first day we downloaded it when we found each other.”
Anzalone said he and Mathis hit it off right away, but he ultimately fell in love when he learned that she had kids. She invited him over for dinner with the kids and he took her and the kids — a 5-year-old boy and two girls, ages 10 and 13 — to the movies for their first outing.
“She told me that it made her heart melt that they liked me so much so she immediately invited me back over and we were inseparable from that moment on,” Anzalone said. ”We always had the children with us because they are what matter most.”
The Las Vegas couple’s relationship was great until Mathis started getting sick in June. Anzalone, 36, said his then-girlfriend, 33, had told him she was anemic, but neither thought it was a big deal until she started getting lethargic and losing her appetite; she was ultimately diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
“It came out of nowhere,” Anzalone said through sobs. “We were so happy, then everything started happening so fast.”
Anzalone said his wife had been getting sick and he finally got her to go to the doctor after her jaw and neck swelled up. They went to an urgent care center and were given a COVID-19 test and sent home with antibiotics, he said. Her test came back negative and she kept getting sicker, so they went to the hospital on July 8.
“We went to St. Rose Dignity Health and they said she needed blood, like now,” Anzalone said. “They didn’t have any on hand, so they sent us to Southern Hills Hospital, and they started doing more tests and diagnosed her with leukemia.”
The couple decided they wanted to get married before Mathis’ sickness progressed too far.
“Someone heard about our story and it ended up going viral,” Anzalone said. “The Las Vegas community came together and donated a dress and rings and everything we needed to get married at the hospital on Aug. 5.”
An hour after their wedding, Mathis was diagnosed with pneumonia and airlifted to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, where she has been on a ventilator for about a week. Anzalone said that doctors have told him they’re hoping to wean her off the ventilator, but it will likely be a long process.
“I didn’t picture that this was the way we would get married,” Anzalone said. “We have lots of plans for our life; I just hope we can still do them.”
He set up a GoFundMe on Thursday with hopes of raising enough money to support the family as Mathis fights for her life. Anzalone worked as a heavy equipment operator but was laid off when the COVID-19 pandemic began and said his unemployment “is up in a couple weeks.”
The campaign had raised $13,775 by Tuesday afternoon, and Anzalone said he’s gotten messages from people all over the world asking how they can donate blood or bone marrow to help Mathis.
“I just know Alysia would be so honored to know how the community, the world, has come together to help,” he said. “I just keep thinking, ‘Why us?’ We’re just two normal people, but I’m so glad that we live in such a wonderful community who’s willing to help a couple of people they don’t even know.”