Angela "Big Ang" Raiola is battling stage 4 brain and lung cancer
brightcove.createExperiences(); After the heartbreaking revelation that Angela “Big Ang” Raiola is battling stage 4 cancer, the Mob Wives crew would have understood if she chose to sit out of the reality show’s final reunion taping Friday.
But the niece of New York gangster Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi showed up looking and feeling fierce as ever, holding out for about half of the grueling 10-hour shoot, a source tells PEOPLE.
“Ang was in good spirits at the reunion. She looked amazing, but you could tell she was getting tired quickly. She stayed for one segment only and went home to rest,” producer Jennifer Graziano tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “We left her attendance at the reunion up to her, and she insisted she finish what she started.”
The insider adds that Raiola, 55, arrived “all dolled up” as usual but “definitely is feeling the effects of everything she’s going through.”
The former owner of Staten Island’s Drunken Monkey bar underwent two surgeries to treat a lemon-sized tumor from her throat last year – only to learn that the disease has spread to her lungs and brain, and the chemotherapy isn’t working.
RELATED VIDEO: Big Ang Thanks Fans as She Battles Stage 4 Lung and Brain Cancer
Her sister Janine Detore has raised more than $43,500 via a GoFundMe page started Feb. 2, and Raiola expressed her gratitude to fans Wednesday.
“I know I’ve said it before, but I just want to make sure it’s always known… Thank you ALL for the concern, support, love, & well wishes,” she tweeted. “Your messages aren’t going unnoticed, just understand it’s all very overwhelming. I truly love you all.”
• For much more on Big Ang’s cancer battle, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
The source says Raiola discussed her health battle during the reunion but mostly reflected on Mob Wives‘s six seasons, encouraging her costars to put their differences aside: “Ang has always been, the vast majority of the time, the peacekeeper and the one who wants everyone to stop the fighting and the drama and all of that. So yes, she did talk about the cancer, but then they kind of went into her talking about her perspective on what all is going on with the other ladies.”
Mob Wives airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on VH1.