Leukemia (CLL)

WWE Star Roman Reigns Announces He’s Fighting Leukemia — Explaining the Basics of Blood Cancers

Published Oct 23, 2018

In an emotional announcement during Monday Night Raw, WWE star Roman Reigns (real name Joe Anoa’i) said that he is taking some time off from wrestling to “whoop leukemia’s ass.” Leukemias are cancers that start in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow – and then stop maturing properly and grow out of control.

During his speech, Anoa’i explained that he has been living with leukemia for 11 years and his current condition is requiring he relinquish his WWE Universal championship, and take time to fight off the disease. He also made it known that he may be down, but he is not out. “By no means is this a retirement speech,” Anoa’i said. “Because after I’m done whooping leukemia’s ass once again, I’m coming back home.”

After his speech, the WWE released a statement saying that Anoa’i is going public with his cancer battle to raise awareness about leukemia and to raise funds for research. Leukemia is a disease that usually involves the white blood cells. White blood cells normally grow and divide in an orderly way when the body needs them. But people with leukemia produce white blood cells that don’t function properly. The treatment options depend on what type of leukemia a person has.

There are four basic categories of leukemia: acute leukemia which grows very quickly, chronic leukemia which grows slower, over several years, lymphoid leukemia which grows from a lymphoid cell, and myeloid leukemia which grows from a myeloid cell.

“There can be four categories, if I simplify it down,” said Dr. Nina Shah, a hematologist who specializes in the treatment of multiple myeloma at UCSF Medical Center. “And that’s sort of the definition of leukemia. In these situations, your bone marrow becomes filled with these cells and, because they’re taking up so much space, cause you to have anemia or low blood count, and doesn’t allow the rest of your blood to work properly to kill infections.”

Anoa’i did not disclose what kind of leukemia he is battling.

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