Reality TV star Angela "Big Ang" Raiola says she veers between hope and depression as she fights stage-four brain and lung cancer.
Angela Raiola, part of the VH1 series "Mob Wives" and its spinoffs, said in a tearful interview airing Tuesday on "The Dr. Oz Show" that her family is her support and her reason to keep going.
"I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me," Raiola told Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the syndicated TV series.
The mother of two and grandmother of six has undergone several surgeries since she was diagnosed last year with throat and lung cancer.
She said she was twice declared cancer-free, only to see it return and spread. Radiation and chemotherapy have failed to check it, and her doctors are switching to what Oz called an advanced approach aimed at boosting her body's immune system.
Raiola told Oz she can't help feeling depressed at times.
"Sometimes I feel I'm gonna be fine, and sometimes I just don't think I am," said Raiola, who lives with her daughter, son-in-law and their three children on New York's Staten Island.
Her hair, once long and dark, is now pale and close-shaven, cut in anticipation of losing it to chemo.
Raiola is the niece of the late Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, who was a reputed captain of the Genovese crime family. After gaining celebrity on "Mob Wives," Raiola got her own spinoff series, "Big Ang" and "Miami Monkey."
A cigarette smoker for 40 years, she said she stopped immediately after her first cancer diagnosis last March. Her doctors told her the disease was "positively" caused by smoking, she said, and she called for people to quit the habit or resist picking it up.
Her sister and brother-in-law are part of her support team, said Raiola, but her husband, Neil Murphy, is not part of her life.