Celebrity | Television

WWE Champion Roman Reigns Reveals He's Battling Cancer

WWE - Twitter

Pro wrestling fans around the world were heartbroken Monday night, as the WWE's Universal Champion Roman Reigns announced he is battling cancer.

Reigns, whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, also announced he would be staying out of the ring while he focused on his health, and relinquished his title belt.

While this is scary news, Reigns was optimistic as he made the announcement to fans, explaining that this is not his first experience with cancer.

"I'm not going to lie, I'll take every prayer you can send my way."

Roman Reigns Leukemia
Reigns announced he will be stepping away from wrestling to focus on his health.WWE - Twitter

Reigns, a former professional football player, was first diagnosed with leukemia at age 22.

Leukemia is a kind of blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow. While treatment for leukemia can be intense, survival rates for new cases of leukemia are above 60%.

"When I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with this," Reigns told fans during an emotional speech that opened this week's episode of Monday Night Raw from Rhode Island.

"And very quickly I was able to put it in remission. But I'm not going to lie, that was the hardest time in my life. I didn't have a job, I didn't have any money, I didn't have a home and I had a baby on the way."

But thankfully, Reigns assured his fans that "by no means is this a retirement speech."

"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," he said.

"I will beat this and I will be back, so you will see me very very soon."

The WWE's fans, who are usually known for booing Reigns, were quick to cheer him on, and chanted his name as he left the ring.

The WWE shared a video of Reigns being comforted by other pro wrestlers backstage, after making his announcement:

The WWE released a statement saying that Reigns was "taking a leave of absence from WWE as he once again fights leukemia, which had been in remission since late 2008."

They explained that the pro wrestler 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."

Other WWE superstars were quick to encourage Reigns and cheer him on, as the hashtag #ThankYouRoman began trending on Twitter.

"'Courage - strength in the face of pain or grief,'" wrote fellow WWE champion John Cena. "You have given us your everything including a courageously vulnerable moment. We, your WWE family, give you all of our love and support. #ThankYouRoman #NeverGiveUp"

We're hoping Reigns will get well soon!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.