The Starz television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand lead actor Andy Whitefield, 39, died Sunday at his home in Sydney after a 18-month fight with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer, his wife Vashti told the press.

The Welsh-born actor and model was diagnosed with the disease in March 2010. He began treating the cancer in New Zealand which delayed the production of the Spartacus second season. In June 2010, Whitfield was able to finish his treatment and was  given a clean bill of health.

But in September 2010 the cancer returned. From then on, Whitfield fought for several months of pain and agony.

Whitfield made Australia his home. He first came to attention after working in a number of TV shows. The model had his biggest breakthrough in the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in which he played the lead role of a soldier.

He appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season first aired in 2010, and was preparing to begin work on the second when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphoid tissue. The cancer also affects the lymph nodes, spleen, and the whole immune system. People with weak immune systems have higher chances of developing this type of cancer and most of the time the cause of this killer disease is unknown.

This cancer is classified into three grades: low, intermediate, and high. The most common type is the low grade which slowly progress and kill the healthy cells. This disease is more common in men than in women.

Whitfield was preparing for the second season when he was diagnosed with the cancer 18 months ago and was forced to drop the role of Spartacus, with network producer Starz recasting Australian actor Liam McIntyre as the replacement.

Spartacus director, Steve DeKnight, said on Twitter, No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.

Lucy Lawless has paid tribute to her co-star.

Lawless said on her Web site Whitfield was a gentle man who never had a bad world about anyone.

Andy's two babies will always know that their Daddy cherished them and their mother, Vashti, above all things.