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Erin Moran Died Holding Husband's Hand

Erin Moran, the "Happy Days" actress who lost her battle with cancer Saturday, died holding her husband's hand.

Steve Fleischmann penned a heartfelt open letter revealing his late wife was "happy" and "active" in her final moments before she passed away in her sleep.

"She woke up on the 22nd, she was not 100%" Fleischmann wrote in a note Moran's former "Joanie Loves Chachi" co-star Scott Baio posted Tuesday afternoon. "She needed Kleenex, so I went to the store and came back. She was there watching TV in bed. I laid down next to her, held her right hand in my left. I fell asleep, woke up about a (sic) hour later still holding her hand and she was gone."

Fleischmann, who wed the star in 1993, explained that Moran, 56, had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in December after waking up to a dime-sized blood stain on her pillowcase after the two celebrated their wedding anniversary in late November.                                        

"She started radiation and chemo," Fleischmann said of her treatment for the disease, which he originally thought was tonsillitis. "Five days a week radiation and chemo only on Thursdays. It got so bad so fast."

Within two months, by the middle of February, Fleischmann writes that Moran could no longer speak, eat or drink, and relied on a feeding tube implant, which her husband fed her through six to eight times a day.

"She was still happy, she was active, she texted people on her phone all day," he wrote of her final days. "Norton Cancer Institute never said how bad it was… The coroner told me it was really really bad. It had spread to her spleen, she had alot (sic) of fluid in her lungs and part of her brain was infected."

Moran's cause of death was not initially revealed, but autopsy results released Monday by the Harris County Sheriff's Department and Coroner's Office indicated she was suffering from cancer when she died in her New Salisbury, Indiana home.

Fleischmann wrote that Moran's condition had deteriorated so quickly that the coroner informed him that even if she had been rushed to the hospital and "pumped full of antibiotics," she likely still would have succumbed to the disease.

He concluded his note with a plea to the media to ease up on their "relentless" pursuit of information regarding the star's shocking death.

Rumors swirled initially that drugs potentially played a part in Moran's death, as actor Paul Petersen penned a cryptic note Sunday claiming that many former child stars had attempted to help Moran overcome her many "troubles."

Baio fueled the fire further with an appearance on "The Bernie & Sid Show," where he said, "For me, you do drugs or drink, you're gonna die" while under the impression that Moran died of a heroin overdose. He later apologized for his comments, and said he was "heartbroken" over news of her death.

SOURCE: New York Daily News

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