Mob Wives star Big Ang died in the early hours of Thursday, February 18, after battling stage IV lung and brain cancer, her friend Vinnie Medugno confirmed via the star's Twitter account on behalf of her family. The reality personality was 55.
According to Medugno, Big Ang — whose real name was Angela Raiola — passed away at 3:01 a.m., surrounded by friends and family.
"It is with sad regret that we inform you that at 3:01 a.m. Angela Raiola peacefully ended her battle with cancer, and was called home," the message on Twitter reads. "She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family, and closest friends. YOU, (Her fans) were some of the most special people in the world, and she loved you immensely.
"Thank you for your love, prayers, and unconditional support of Angela right to the very end. She truly went out richer than any monetary value could ever amount to. The family asks for privacy, and peace during this most difficult time. In typical Big Ang fashion, we know she would say 'Love you my babies!' This page will remain open as a celebration of who she was and will always be. It has been my esteemed privilege and honor to represent her in the highest regard via social media. Vinnie Medugno."
Raiola was diagnosed with throat cancer last March after doctors discovered a lemon-size tumor. After two surgeries, she thought she was in the clear only to be diagnosed later with stage IV lung and brain cancer.
“One day I was perfectly fine, thinking I had strep throat. The next thing I know I have stage II cancer,” Raiola recalled to Dr. Oz during an interview that aired on Tuesday, February 16. "It's shocking what happened. First I thought I was cancer-free and I was gonna have a big celebration, have a party, and then a month later I [had] stage IV [cancer].”
Earlier this month, her family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the star’s medical bills. "We're a very tight family," she told Dr. Oz of her clan. "If my family wasn't here to support me through all this, I don't think I could do it."
The GoFundMe campaign, which Raiola’s sister Janine Detore started, has so far raised more than $45,000. The goal was $25,000.
Raiola has also said that her husband, Neil Murphy, wasn’t offering her the support she needed while she was fighting cancer. During the interview with Dr. Oz, the VH1 star revealed she split from Murphy because she “felt like he never stepped up to the plate.”
Raiola is survived by her sister Janine, her two children, Raquel and Anthony Donfrio, and six grandchildren.