Moran passed away from stage 4 cancer on April 22
Anson Williams, who starred opposite Moran on the 1970s comedy Happy Days, confirmed to PEOPLE that the letter — initially shared in full by Scott Baio on Facebook — was penned by Steven Fleischmann in his honor of his late wife, who passed away at the age of 56 from stage 4 cancer on April 22 at her residence in New Salisbury, Indiana.
“Erin Moran’s husband’s loving letter explaining Erin’s final days,” Williams, who played Potsie Weber on Happy Days and who was in touch with Moran in the months before her passing, wrote in a Facebook post shared Thursday.
“Erin and I met 4/22/1992 and parted ways 4/22/2017. We were planning to go to Thunder Over Louisville to celebrate. She was feeling fine on our anniversary 11-23-2016. Maybe four or five days after we got back Erin woke up and had about a dime size blood stain on her pillowcase. She said I think i bit my tongue. A couple days go by and there’s a bigger spot of blood. We get like 4 days into December, there’s more blood. I get a flashlight and say let me look. It was not her tongue it was her tonsil on the left side. I thought it was tonsillitis,” Fleischmann began the open letter.
“So we went to an ENT who said they wanted to biopsy it. It came back squamous cell carcinoma. She started radiation and chemo. Five days a week radiation and chemo only on Thursdays. We did that the whole time. It got so bad so fast. By the middle of February, Erin could no longer speak or eat or drink. She had a feeding tube implant and i feed her 6 to 8 times a day,” the letter continued. “She was still happy, she was active, she texted people on her phone all day.”
“On the 21st she was having trouble breathing. She woke up on the 22nd, she was not 100%. She needed Kleenex, so i went to the store and came back. She was there watching T.V in bed. I laid down next to her held her right hand in my left. I feel asleep woke up about a hour later still holding her hand and she was gone, she was just gone.. Norton Cancer Institute never said how bad it was,” Fleischmann wrote. “The coroner told me it was really really bad. It had spread to her spleen, she had alot of fluid in her lungs and part of her brain was infected.”
Moran’s widower concluded the letter, “the coroner said even if she was in the hospital being pumped full of antibiotics she still would not of made it. He said it was the best that she was with me and went in her sleep.”
Moran most famously played Cunningham, the younger sister to Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard) on Happy Days, which ran from 1974 to 1984. She also starred in the spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi from 1982 to 1983, which followed her character’s romance with Chachi, played by Baio.
Following her death, Moran’s longtime friend Williams, 67, told PEOPLE, “It’s hard to wrap your arms around it. She was having treatment for throat cancer, so I was contacting her husband and her and she seemed to be fighting it, really doing well. I was just shocked when I got the call she had passed. I had no idea it was that bad.”
“She kept very quiet,” he continued. “We all kept quiet too, out of respect for Erin. She couldn’t speak, but her texts were very [positive].”