Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, star of VH1 reality show Mob Wives, has died from Cancer at 55. She passed away in a New York City hospital surrounded by friends and family, after nearly a year-long battle with throat cancer.
Raiola’s family announced the news of her death to her fans via her Twitter account, writing that she had “peacefully ended her battle with cancer.”
“YOU (fans) were some of the most special people in her world, and she loved you immensely,” the statement attached to the tweet reads. “Thank you for your love, prayers, and unconditional support of Angela right to the end.”
The reality star was diagnosed in March 2015 with throat cancer that later spread to her brain and lung. When she revealed the news to her fans via Facebook, she encouraged them to take charge of their own personal health.
“Always look after yourselves and don’t neglect your health,” she wrote in April of 2015. “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.”
Raiola shared her story about her battle with cancer in a pre-taped appearance in a February 2016 episode of the Dr. Oz show.
In the tearful interview she said that her family is what kept her going through her disease. “”I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me,” she told the host. She also explained that she had twice been declared cancer-free, only to have it return and spread to other areas of her body. “Sometimes I feel I’m gonna be fine, and sometimes I just don’t think I am,” she admitted.
She also highlighted the fact that she had been a cigarette smoker for 40 years, which her doctors had cited as “positively” the cause of her illness. She explained that she immediately quit after her diagnosis, and made a plea for others to quit smoking or prevent themselves from starting in the first place.
Her sister and brother-in-law had been supporting her during her illness, Raiola said on the show, but she also added that her husband, Neil Murphy, was no longer part of her life.
Raiola, nicknamed Big Ang as she was nearly 6-foot tall, was a popular cast member on Mob Wives, despite not actually being a “mob wife.” Her connection to that world was through her uncle, the late Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, a reputed captain of the Genovese crime family. But despite that she was known as a peacemaker on the show, helping other cast members through disputes. Her popularity led to her getting her own spin-off reality show, Big Ang, which was later retooled as Miami Monkey, although neither version of the show was on the air very long.
Raiola lived with her daughter Raquel’s family on New York’s Staten Island, where she ran the Drunken Monkey bar. Many members of her family, including her son, Anthony, and her sister, Janine, appeared alongside her on her various shows.
Source; USA Today