Jeff Bridges is grateful to have survived his battle with COVID-19 while receiving cancer treatment.
The "Big Lebowski" star revealed in 2020 he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system) and then, last year he got COVID-19 while he was undergoing chemotherapy, which caused his immune system to weaken. He spent nearly five months in hospital and, in an interview with People, said he thought he was going to die.
"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 the outlet. "COVID made my cancer look like nothing."
Bridges recalled lying in the hospital bed in extreme pain, unable to roll over without calling the nurse to help with oxygen.
"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 said.
The medical team opted to give him convalescent plasma, People reported, a therapy that uses blood from people who have recovered from an illness to give to others to help them recover. Slowly, Bridges grew stronger.
"I started taking baby steps," he said, explaining how he worked with a physical therapist three times a week to reclaim his strength.
Then, in 2021, he announced his cancer was in remission, saying in an update on his website that the 9-inch by 12-inch "mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble." And, while his cancer battle might not have been a walk in the park, it was still easier than his bout with COVID-19, which he previously opened up about on his website.
There was a hidden gift in it all though.
"While I had moments of tremendous pain — screaming, singing, a sort of moaning song all through the night — getting close to the pearly gates, all in all, I felt happy and joyous most of the time," he said. "This brush with mortality has brought me a real gift — life is brief and beautiful. Love is all around us, and available at all times."
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