Big Ang, the bigger-than-life reality star who appeared on Mob Wives, reportedly succumbed to cancer on Thursday after a long battle. She was 55 years old.
Big Ang–whose real name was Angela Raiola–was the niece of Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi of the Genovese family. Lombardi passed away in 2009, but Raiola was featured on the reality show because of her connection with several women whose husbands or boyfriends were reportedly involved in crime families. Ang was a beloved figure, both on the show and in real life, and her Twitter page has been updated by friend Vinnie Medugno, who will reportedly keep the account active in her memory.
“It is with sad regret that we inform you that at 3:01 a.m. Angelia Raiola peacefully ended her battle with cancer, and was called home. She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family, and the 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 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!’” Medugno wrote this week. The announcement came after rumors began to circulate online that Big Ang had passed and a representative took to social media to ask for respect and privacy as she fought for her life in the hospital.
Big Ang had a long battle with both brain and lung cancer, but she appeared on The Dr. Oz Show earlier this week to talk about her health and to announce that she had split from husband Neil Murphy.
“I felt like he never stepped up to the plate, so I was done with it. Now, it’s too late. I would rather be by myself. I would rather be alone,” she said.
Ang said in an emotional interview that she was shocked to learn recently that doctors had given her a 30% chance of survival after what she thought was remission.
“It’s shocking what happened. First I thought I was cancer-free. I was gonna have a big celebration … and then a month later I was stage 4…I was completely devastated. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. … I feel like I went deaf. I was like, oh, this is going too fast for me. Now I’m just hysterical.”
Ang is survived by two children and a large extended family; her sister, Janine Detore, started a GoFundMe account to help pay for the medical expenses.