Roman Reigns returned to WWE on Monday's RAW in Atlanta and announced that his leukemia is now in remission. It was his first appearance since announcing his second battle with leukemia and vacating the WWE Universal Championship last October.
While the response to Reigns' announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, there is a small section of fans that believe the cancer diagnosis was a work.
Kris Griffin, who is a Leukaemia patient and a trustee for Leukaemia Care, wrote about having a similar type of blood cancer as Reigns.
"Roman's remission appears to be too good to be true. Looking great with all of his hair, five months after diagnosis doesn't fit in with the traditional narrative of a blood cancer patient. Cancer doesn't work like that, does it? Actually, yes, some blood cancers do," Griffin wrote. "I've had a similar type of blood cancer to Roman called chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) for 11 years now. I take a small white tablet every morning called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and it puts my leukaemia back in its box on a molecular level. I've had bad days where I've felt tired or a bit sick but I've carried on. I work full time in education and haven't taken a day off sick through anything related to the leukaemia. It took me about 9 months to reach a haematological level of remission, in that my blood looked OK. It took 6 years to get to a molecular level of remission and now my leukaemia is pretty much undetectable. I've never lost my hair and I've never had traditional chemotherapy.
"You see where I'm going with this? Roman is an elite athlete and it might surprise you that I'm not. We've both fought our leukaemia in our own way and in our own timeframe. But there is one thing that I guarantee will annoy any leukaemia patient who is in remission, that's someone saying, 'well, you don't look sick!' Right now, that's happening online. Can't we celebrate Roman looking great and happy or would we prefer him hooked up to a drip, pushed out in a wheelchair? That's our traditional view and if our traditional view has been upended, it isn't a lie.
"The treatment that has given Roman and me our lives back was hailed in 2001 by Time Magazine as the magic bullet for cancer. Times are changing, we're the trailblazers and millions of people are now living because of that little white tablet. They aren't having devastating does of chemotherapy and in most cases, after taking the tablet they are able to go to work or smash someone around in a wrestling ring. It's still not perfect, some people get side effects from the drugs but as the treatment improves, so will the quality of life."
Griffin also noted that while Reigns' leukemia is in remission, it can return.
"But, let's not forget, and Roman knows this all too well, leukaemia can relapse," Griffin noted. "We're all living on a knife edge from appointment to appointment. My appointments are six months apart and I still get nervous, I'm sure that I always will. It's a strange way to live…but it's better than the alternative."
Leukaemia Care, a national blood cancer support charity in the U.K. took to Twitter and created a thread to address some of the questions and skepticism. They wrote:
Firstly, incredible news about Roman Reigns. Relapse is a scary reality for all leukaemia patients. Either fear of your cancer returning or having to face treatment for relapse. It's great to hear some positive news from a leukaemia patient.
The tweets we are seeing mainly centre around the idea of what a cancer patient should look like.
"How can he have hair?"
"How can he have not lost weight?"
"Why doesn't he look like a cancer patient?"
We're going to weigh in here with some leukaemia information. We feel like we know a little bit and the Vince gif is appropriate pic.twitter.com/FzMgSswuIB— Leukaemia Care (@LeukaemiaCareUK) February 26, 2019
Back to basics. Leukaemia is a cancer. It affects people of all ages. There are four main types of cancer: ALL, AML, CLL and CML. However, there are other types and subtypes. LEUKAEMIA IS COMPLICATED!
The different types are key. Acute leukaemias are aggressive and need aggressive treatment to save a patient. Chronic leukaemias are incurable but treatable.
DON'T FORGET - We do not KNOW what type of leukaemia he has. Therefore, NONE of us are in a position to question his treatment, how he should look etc.
The first question - How can he have hair?— Leukaemia Care (@LeukaemiaCareUK) February 26, 2019
Treatment for leukaemia may cause hair loss. It may cause hair thinning. It may cause no hair loss at all. pic.twitter.com/KXGKFDpA0q
Leukaemia can make you lose weight. Leukaemia can also make you gain weight. There is no one way that leukaemia SHOULD look.
Our website is full of stories of leukaemia patients - if you have ten minutes, it might be worth having a read https://t.co/2hAIcp4iYM— Leukaemia Care (@LeukaemiaCareUK) February 26, 2019
A final few thoughts on the psychological impact of leukaemia. Living with or beyond a leukaemia diagnosis is scary. The fear of relapse is always there. Think before you tweet.
We're more than happy to answer any questions you have about leukaemia/leukemia or point you in the right direction of other information. Don't be shy, there is no such thing as a silly question
Kris Walpool contributed to this article.