Dustin Diamond’s management team has described the actor’s tragic death as “sharp and swift” following a lung cancer diagnosis just three weeks ago.
The 44-year-old former child star had started chemotherapy two weeks before his death, which was confirmed by his management today.
According to friends of the Saved By The Bell star, Diamond had been avoiding seeking medical attention for a “huge lump” on his neck for a while, out of fear people would take photos of him and post them online.
Close friend Dan Block told The Sun today of his passing: “We thought he had five months or something.”
“He was getting ready to go into the hospice today.
“I was there, by his bed. He didn’t say anything. He wasn’t in a position to talk. He was labouring to breathe really bad. We’re all so shocked.”
Diamond’s team announced via Facebook he passed away on Monday morning, local time. It is understood he was being treated in a hospital in Florida.
“We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1, 2021 due to carcinoma,” Diamond’s official social media page read.
“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago.
“In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
According to Mr Block, Diamond had a “huge lump” on his neck for a while but avoided going to the hospital due to privacy concerns.
“I know that the reason he didn’t get help is because when he goes out people take pictures, put it on the internet and say not nice things about him,” Block told the publication last month.
“He’s subject to public ridicule all the time and it sucks. People need to know he is a human.”
Diamond’s Saved By The Bell co-star Mario Lopez, who played A.C. Slater, also told Variety he had spoken to his former colleague weeks ago and urged him to seek treatment.
“I actually just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. He was reluctant to go in (to hospital) for a while because he didn’t know if anything was going to get out,” Lopez said.
“And I said, ‘Bro, that’s foolish, you’ve got to get in there and take care of yourself and forget what people are saying.’
“Some people thought his illness was a joke, which is awful, but the internet always spills tales. When all of this was happening, I was optimistic that he would make a recovery, but it was obviously too late.
“From when I found out he was sick to his passing, it’s been incredibly quick. It’s so fresh, it’s incredibly hard to process.”
RELATED: Screech actor’s stage 4 cancer
The TV actor was rushed to a hospital in Florida with “pain all over his body” in January and was told he had anything from a few weeks to a year or two left.
His family have a history of the disease, with his mother dying of breast cancer.
TRIBUTES FLOOD IN
Diamond’s Saved By The Bell co-stars paid tribute to the actor on social media today.
“Dustin, you will be missed my man,” Mario Lopez wrote on Twitter. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on.”
Calling Diamond a “true comedic genius,” Mark-Paul Gosselaar added, “My sincere condolences to his family and friends,” before continuing, “Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade.”
Tiffani Thiessen also memorialised Diamond on her Instagram page, writing, “I am deeply saddened by the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
Diamond’s team added on Facebook of his death: “Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: An unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored. We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team.
“We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr Diamond’s family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden.”