When Roman Reigns was first diagnosed with leukemia 11 years ago, everything was new to him and he didn't know what his symptoms meant. When he experienced those same symptoms again in 2018, he recognized the red flags immediately and knew what was going on.
As a part of making the official diagnosis that his leukemia had returned, Reigns underwent a blood test where it was revealed that his white blood cell count was over 100,000, which is over 10 times the average range. Further tests showed that Reigns had an enlarged spleen and that was when he made the call to remove himself from the ring.
"That was the immediate physical scare of having to get me out of the ring," Reigns told The Undefeated. "With a ruptured spleen, it's obviously going to be a major operation, but people can die from it. It was a situation we didn't want to put ourselves in, no matter how hardheaded I can be."
Reigns was a football player the first time he went through leukemia but was still virtually unknown. That wasn't the case the second time around as he is now a global Superstar and battled the disease publicly. He says that he still has trouble with dealing with the disease in such a public way as he's not one to seek sympathy from others.
"There's still things I deal with on a day-to-day process," Reigns said. "It's still weird to meet strangers and they're like, 'How are you feeling?' It's like an immediate sympathy for me. That's something I didn't want, the part I don't like, because I don't want people to feel worried for me or feel sorry for me.
"It's all coming out of a good place, but it's one of those deals that I'm still struggling with, my health being so public and that's the first thing people think or know about you."
While Reigns is appreciative of the support and the recognition for bringing awareness to those battling leukemia, he still strives to be known for what he does best and that's being a family man and a WWE Superstar.
"For me, I just want to get back to where I'm leading a pretty normal life and I'm just doing the things that I love and getting the recognition for the things I was getting recognition for before this."