In the opening of Monday’s episode of “WWE Raw,” Reigns told the crowd he has “been living with leukemia for 11 years,” describing his diagnosis at 22 as the “hardest time of my life.”
“And unfortunately it’s back, and because the leukemia is back, I cannot fulfill my role. I can’t be that fighting champion and I’m going to have to relinquish the Universal Championship,” Reigns said.
“I’m not going to lie; I’ll take every prayer you can send my way, but I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m not looking for you to feel bad for me, because I have faith.”
Reigns, who won the Universal Championship in August at SummerSlam after defeating Brock Lesnar, is adamant that this doesn’t mean he’ll be retiring.
“Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and the best thing for me to do is to go home and focus on my health,” he said. “But I want to make one thing clear: By no means is this a retirement speech because after I’m done whupping leukemia’s ass once again, I’m coming back home. And when I do, it’s not going to just be about titles and being on top; no, it’s about a purpose.”
In a statement, WWE said that Reigns was taking “his battle with leukemia public in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research in order to advance cures for the disease.”