In the early hours of Thursday morning, reality TV fans faced some heartbreaking news: Mob Wives star Big Ang passed away following a battle with cancer. The VH1 star (whose real name is Angela Raiola) was 55. And if you were wondering what kind of cancer Big Ang had, the answer to that question proves that she truly fought a difficult battle. Raiola struggled with recently diagnosed brain and lung cancer, after having tumors removed from her throat last year — all while keeping a positive attitude about her diagnosis, and it's all a testament to how strong she truly was.
In case that timeline is a little confusing, let's go back to the beginning. According to People, in March 2015, Raiola was diagnosed with throat cancer, which meant she had to undergo two surgeries to remove a tumor from her throat that was blocking her airway. At that point, the cancer was stage two, and Raiola described her recovery as painful enough that she felt like "they cut my head off and put it back on." But even so, she recovered, made lifestyle changes like switching to e-cigarettes and going out less, and seemed to be cancer free, until she received her second scary diagnosis.
In December, TMZ broke the news that Big Ang's cancer had returned, which she found out about during a checkup with her doctor. This time, it was stage four brain and lung cancer. Raiola later told Radar Online that she separated from husband Neil Murphy around the same time as her diagnosis, because of the lack of support that she received from him.
Unfortunately, her chemotherapy treatments didn't seem to be working, so in early February, Raiola was hospitalized as she suffered from "labored breathing and pain." Her sister, Janine Detore, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for alternative treatments for Raiola, including cannabis oil. On Thursday morning, Raiola's friend, Vinnie Medugno, released the following statement straight from the star's Twitter account:
Big Ang may be gone, but there's no way she'll ever be forgotten. Now that Mob Wives has returned for Season 6 and documents Raiola's battle, it will be a great tribute to the woman she was.