Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, a star from reality show Mob Wives, died early Thursday morning at 55 after a nearly year-long battle with throat cancer. She died in a New York City hospital with friends and family by her side.
Raiola’s family broke the news about her passing from her Twitter account, writing that she had “peacefully ended her battle with cancer.”
Big Ang’s rep, Jennifer Graziano, released a statement on behalf of the family.
“I am saddened to say that at 3:01 a.m. Ang lost her battle with cancer. She passed peacefully surrounded by friends and family. My heart is broken for her whole family — especially her children and grandchildren and I will never forget her. Her presence brought sheer happiness to anyone that was around her and I am honoured to have called her a friend. Please respect her family’s privacy at this time as they mourn the loss of such an amazing woman.”
In March 2015, Raiola was diagnosed with throat cancer, which later spread to her brain and lung. When she revealed the news to her fans on Facebook, she encouraged them to pay more attention to their personal health.
“Always look after yourselves and don’t neglect your health,” she wrote in April. “I’m fortunate and blessed to have discovered something very early, and handle it in a positive manner. I thank you and I love you all from the bottom of my heart.”
Former Jersey Shore star Snooki tweeted about Raiola’s death, as did Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice, who was recently released from prison.
In a pre-taped Feb. 2016 appearance on the Dr. Oz show, Raiola opened up about her cancer, revealing that doctors attributed her 40 years of cigarette smoking as the cause. She thanked her family for providing her with unconditional support, and explained how hard it was to be declared cancer-free only to have it return.
“I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me,” she told Dr. Oz. “Sometimes I feel I’m gonna be fine, and sometimes I just don’t think I am,” she said.
Raiola quit smoking immediately after her diagnosis and sought to help others quit and avoid the habit altogether.
Known as the peacemaker on Mob Wives, Raiola was nicknamed “Big Ang” because of her nearly 6-foot height. She wasn’t actually a “mob wife”; her connection to the alleged Mafia was through her late uncle, Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, who was a reputed captain in the Genovese crime family.
Raiola leaves behind a daughter, Raquel, and a son, Anthony. The future of Mob Wives has not been addressed by VH1 as of this writing. Funeral plans are pending.Follow @CJancelewicz
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