WWE Star Roman Reigns Opens Up About His Leukemia Battle and Return to the Ring
By Paige Gawley
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Roman Reigns is speaking out following his reveal that his cancer is in remission.
The 33-year-old WWE star -- who's real name is Leati Joseph Anoa'i -- stopped by Good Morning America on Tuesday, the morning after he told an excited crowd at WWE's Monday Night Raw that his leukemia is in remission. On the morning show, Reigns gushed about the experience of announcing his happy news to the crowd, calling it "amazing" and "one of those things I thought about over and over."
"I just knew in my head, this journey's not going to be complete until I get to step foot back in that ring and I get to address my fans," he said. "... I was so nervous last night, though. So nervous. And I don't even get nervous... Main events at WrestleMania, all good. But last night, I think, just because it was so close to the vest... the perfectionist came out in me. The OCD came out."
Despite his nerves, Reigns is thrilled with the response from his fans, praising them for being "so gentle with me and just so gracious."
"They just sent so much love... everybody was so great," he said. "The love through this whole process, the support is what was really overwhelming. To be able to feel that from the whole world, from everybody, all the prayers, all the blessings. It really was a blessing."
"People from all walks of life, everybody was thinking about me," he continued. "Everyone was praying for me and I just feel so blessed to receive that type of attention, that type of love."
In addition to his fans, Reigns got support from his family during the resurgence of his cancer, which he was first diagnosed with more than a decade prior and reappeared last October.
"They've been my rock and I think that's the most important thing, that support that surrounds you," he said. "... Sometimes it's our families that suffer the most. We're just in it and we're just trying to overcome, move on to the next day and continue to progress and they are the ones worrying to death. My mom, bless her heart, she is the biggest worry wart in the world."
"The first time it felt like I was on an island by myself and this time it just felt like I was surrounded by guardian angels," he continued. "The terror and the fears that I had, it was quickly alleviated as soon as I felt that outreach of all my fans and everyone, whether they knew who I was or were indifferent to me, they all rallied behind me."
Now that he's healthy and returning to the ring, Reigns is focusing on raising awareness of and money for pediatric cancer.
"I've been able to see and visit with some of these kids that are in the big fight and within the pediatric hospitals," he said. "... I have the opportunity to... create awareness... I have a huge platform within the WWE. We're a global brand. We're all over the world. I think every night that I'm able to step in that ring it's a symbol of hope, it's a symbol of awareness."
"We're not just gonna talk about it. We're in the process of creating funds and foundations to help," he added. "We want to make people aware, but we also want to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty."