Roman Reigns discussed his return to WWE last week following his battle with leukemia on the latest episode of Chronicle, which premiered Monday night on the WWE Network. During the episode, Reigns discussed learning that his leukemia had returned last October.
Reigns said he was at a live event on either October 20th or 21st when he was told by a WWE doctor that something was off with his blood test. He took another blood test and got to the RAW tapings that Monday and was told that Dr. Amann and the medical staff wanted to see him. Reigns noted that he could tell that something was wrong. He was told that his white blood cell count was elevated and that with his history, they figured what was likely going on.
"I just had to ask myself if I really wanted to share this news, but I didn't want people to think that it defeated me," Reigns said.
Reigns noted that vacating the WWE Universal Championship "drove him nuts," and that he was worried that the world wouldn't take to the news properly. After telling people, he was relieved that he could talk about it and not bury it. He had been insecure about it because he looks healthy, and he wasn't sure how people would react. He stated that he would let children know that he has leukemia during Make-A-Wish visits.
Reigns said that for the first couple of months after relinquishing the title, he spent most of his time on the couch and couldn't move. He credited his wife for taking care of everything during that period.
Reigns also revealed that he has CML leukemia which was caught in its early phases, noting that "It's pretty much where you want to catch this disease."
According to Cancer.org, CML is a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. It is a genetic disease, but is not hereditary, and there is no evidence that it can be passed on to his children. CML occurs mostly in adults, but it can occur in children as well. 1 in 599 people will be diagnosed with CML in their lifetime.
The life expectancy was only 3-7 years after the diagnosis was determined at one point, however tyrosine kinase inhibitors, which are pills taken orally, have allowed people with CML to live a normal lifespan.
"There's a pill that they make, there's an oral chemotherapy," Reigns stated. "There's a few different types now, when they started there was just one. It's not like taking Advil, it's nothing like taking radiation and true chemotherapy.
"It does have its side effects," Reigns continued. "It does have nastiness about it. But at the end of the day, if you're lucky enough to just take a pill, you're ahead of the game."
While the treatment keeps CML from progressing, the disease is currently not curable, so Reigns would likely have to take the drugs indefinitely. Reigns said that the treatment allows him to stay out of pain and maintain a certain level of health. He admitted to having a little arthritis, but admitted that he would "take a little arthritis than going through radiation any day."
Reigns said that he hopes that he can use his battle to inspire others. He feels that he has more of a purpose than just the Roman Reigns character, and that he hopes that he can give other people battling illness some hope.
"In a weird way it makes me sad, but it makes my happy too," Reigns said. "It makes you feel like, 'man, this is what had to happen to reach some of these people?' At the same time, I'm just glad it reached some people. If it reaches one child, that one kid fighting for his life, sitting in his bed by himself and if he can use me as an image to work towards something to drive them. If that one kid can say, 'if Roman can do it, I can do it,' then I think my job is done. If I can be a figure that makes these children - or anybody that's going through blood cancer - fight a little extra and want to live for an extra day or give them the strength to keep going, to keep pushing through treatments and through life, then I think that my story landed and did what it needed to do."