In a touching new article in AARP The Magazine, Jeff Bridges speaks candidly about his battle with lymphoma, which he revealed in 2020, and a subsequent fight with COVID-19.
Bridges recalls he was on a pandemic break of shooting his FX show The Old Man when he noticed something was wrong. “I was doing some exercises while on the ground and felt what seemed like a bone in my stomach. I thought to myself, Hmm. But it didn’t hurt or anything,” he explained, so he put off seeing a doctor.
He later found out he had lymphoma and a 9-by-12-inch cancerous tumor near his stomach.
While being treated with chemotherapy, his immune system was suppressed and he contracted COVID. “Cancer was nothing compared to the COVID,” the actor recalled, explaining he spent five weeks in the hospital.
“I was in surrender mode,” he admitted. “I’d say to myself, ‘Everybody dies, and this is me dying.'”
He explained, “I fought by surrendering, which is not the same as giving up … What I really felt at the time was love. … So what I did was more like giving in to love, you know?”
Bridges said after leaving the hospital he set “really small goals.”
“At first, they’d say, ‘How long can you stand?’ For a while, my record was 45 seconds before I’d collapse. And then they were saying: ‘Oh, look, you’re standing for a minute! That’s so cool, now can you walk five feet?'” he recalls.
He met a goal of walking his daughter Hayley down the aisle in August 2021; that September, he announced his cancer was in remission.
Bridges, who feared he’d never work again, returned to finish shooting The Old Man in October 2021, calling it “like a dream.”
The mass in his stomach is now the size “of a marble,” Bridges said, and he’s about to start work on season 2 of the spy drama.
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