Karen Gravano, Renee Graziano, Big Ang

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As the tragic news of Angela "Big Ang" Raiola's death sets in, the loss is hitting the women closest to her the hardest. 

A featured cast member on the VH1 hit reality show Mob Wives, the 55-year-old was constantly surrounded by a group of women who often failed to see eye to eye. Big Ang quickly became the greatly needed peacekeeper among the crew. 

"Ang was like a mom and protector to these women," a source shared with E! News. "They loved her like a mom." 

After doctors discovered a tumor in her throat in April 2015, the reality star underwent surgery to remove it. Though she was declared cancer-free six months later, by December, the cancer had returned and spread to her brain and right lung. Swiftly after the second diagnosis, Raiola died early Thursday morning. 

"They're all brokenhearted," the source added of her television family. "No one expected it to happen this quickly. Some of the cast was at the hospital last night when she passed. Drita [D'Avanzo] was there."

Angela 'Big Ang' Raiola

Steve Mack/Getty Images

Her passing was announced on her Twitter account in the early morning. 

"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," the statement read. "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."

Her rep and the show's creator Jennifer Graziano also shared the tragic news with E!. 

"My heart is broken for her whole family—especially her children and grandchildren and I will never forget her," Graziano said. "Her presence brought sheer happiness to anyone that was around her and I am honored to have called her a friend. Please respect her family's privacy at this time as they mourn the loss of such an amazing woman."

A moment for final goodbyes is still being planned. "Everyone's waiting to hear about funeral plans," the insider shared. "The family will let everyone know." 

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