"I dare anybody to read Anthony's story and not care about him right away," the actor says

By Julie Jordan
Updated July 03, 2015 09:25 AM

Having a support system that includes Hollywood superstar Bradley Cooper is all Anthony Daniels could ask for in his battle against cancer.

First diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011 when he was a student at Fordham University, Daniels, 24, had already beat the cancer into submission three times when he recently learned it had returned.

He’s now undergoing radiation to shrink a tumor on his spine after his latest round of chemotherapy wasn’t effective.

“I’m in a lot of pain but it could be worse,” he says. “I just think if my situation can somehow help others who feel as badly as I do, then that’s a constant motivation to keep going.”

Introduced to Daniels through Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, Cooper was moved by the young man’s story.

“Anthony just has the gift of positivity and gratitude,” Cooper tells PEOPLE. “He understands the importance of life that we tend to forget on a daily basis. But I have the feeling he was like that his whole life not just when he was plagued by this horrible disease.”

Being told that a bone marrow transplant is Daniels’s best hope for survival, Cooper was immediately compelled to help raise awareness for possible donors.

“Anthony hasn’t found someone who he’s compatible with yet and it’s such a simple test,” says the actor, whose own dad had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died of lung cancer four years ago.

“I think when it’s not personal and you can’t relate to it, you tend to not take action. But I dare anybody to read Anthony’s story and not care about him right away.”

Daniels says he was more than impressed by Cooper’s genuine interest and concern.

“He was a real humble guy and he was very easy to talk to,” he adds. “I didn’t think he was going to be as selfless as he was so it was a nice surprise to say the least.”

As for Cooper, not helping Daniels wasn’t even an option. “Anthony just has a genuine love of every moment that he’s alive and I find that to be very compelling,” he explains. “And especially heartbreaking because he’s afflicted with essentially a terminal disease.”

People who are interested in becoming bone marrow donors can register online for a simple swab kit that comes in the mail with pre-paid return envelopes. “Luckily I have the best support system possible,” says Daniels. “It’s hard to give up on yourself when everybody else is fighting for you.”

For more information on becoming a bone marrow donor, or to read more about Daniels’s story, go to www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/AnthonysFight.