Actor Jeff Bridges recently opened up about catching COVID-19 while in remission after battling cancer, saying “I was pretty close to dying”.
Speaking to People, Bridges – known for his roles in The Big Lebowski, Tron and True Grit, among other films – recounted being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2020, after his doctors discovered a “12-by-9-inch tumour” in his stomach. He began treatment shortly after – a round of chemotherapy by infusion and then oral chemo – which fortunately worked quickly.
“They got a cocktail that worked, and oh man it worked fast. That thing just imploded,” he said.
But in January 2021, Bridges caught COVID-19. The vaccine wasn’t yet available at that point, and his immune system was already weakened by the cancer treatment, leaving him especially vulnerable.
“I had no defenses. That’s what chemo does – it strips you of all your immune system. I had nothing to fight it,” he told People. “COVID made my cancer look like nothing.
“I was pretty close to dying. The doctors kept telling me, ‘Jeff, you’ve got to fight. You’re not fighting.’ I was in surrender mode. I was ready to go. I was dancing with my mortality,” he added, spending almost five months in hospital.
It was convalescent plasma therapy that helped Bridges regain his health, which is a treatment that uses blood from people who’ve recovered from an illness to help someone else recover. He began working with a physical therapist three times a week, and has since returned to work on his new show, The Old Man.
“Who would say, ‘I’d love some cancer and give me a dose of COVID?’” he said, adding that his health battle gave him a greater appreciation for his family. “Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way.”
Bridges drama series The Old Man follows the character Dan Chase, an ex-CIA agent, who has to face his past when an assassin is sent to take him out. The show is set to air on FX on June 16.