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Actor Jeff Bridges is best known for playing the iconic role of The Dude in The Big Lebowski, or for his Academy Award winning role in Crazy Heart. But in 2020, the star made headlines for another reason: he was diagnosed with lymphoma after discovering a foot-long tumor in his abdomen. While undergoing chemo, he was dealt a second blow to his health that he says left him "dancing with [his] mortality." Read on to learn how Bridges first discovered his shocking tumor, and why he says his second health scare made cancer "look like a piece of cake."
This is how Jeff Bridges discovered his 12-inch abdominal tumor.
The star first announced that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, in Oct. 2020. "As the Dude would say… New S**T has come to light. I have been diagnosed with lymphoma," the actor shared via Instagram. "Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good," he wrote.
The details of his diagnosis shocked many, thanks in no small part to the sheer size of his abdominal tumor, which he says he noticed one morning while exercising at home. "I had a 12-by-9-in. tumor in my body. Like a child in my body," he told People in Mar. 2022. "It didn't hurt or anything," the star added.
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Since completing chemotherapy, he now feels "terrific."
Bridges underwent chemotherapy to shrink the outsized tumor, and the treatment worked spectacularly. "They got a cocktail that worked, and oh man it worked fast. That thing just imploded," Bridges told People.
Though production on his FX drama The Old Man was brought to a standstill for 15 months amid his diagnosis and pandemic restrictions, Bridges shared that he now feels "terrific," and was glad to return to work on set. "I went through a year and a half of this bizarre dream and then came back," Bridges said during a virtual press conference promoting the series in March (via The Wrap). "It was great to be back with the gang."
He also expressed his gratitude to the cast and crew for their support and patience through his recovery. "As far as I'm concerned, FX and all of the team were so considerate and gave me all of the time I needed to heal and all the support I needed. The protocols—we were still in COVID—made me feel very safe and eager to get down to business and play," he said.
Bridges battled COVID while completing chemo.
Despite his remarkable recovery from lymphoma, Bridges suffered a serious health setback when he contracted COVID in Jan. 2021. Because chemotherapy had weakened his immune system, he found himself hospitalized and on supplemental oxygen for over five weeks. "I had no defenses. That's what chemo does—it strips you of all your immune system. I had nothing to fight it," the Crazy Heart star told People.
Compared with his foot-long tumor, Bridges says having COVID was far more frightening. "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," said Bridges. His health began to rebound after undergoing convalescent plasma therapy. "My dance with COVID makes my cancer look like a piece of cake," he wrote on his website of the experience.
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His health woes have "sharpened" his outlook on life.
Bridges now says that his difficult two years of health challenges changed his outlook on life. "In times like that, it seems like all your philosophies and spirituality comes to you," the True Grit actor said. "It tests you. All of that has been made more mature by that experience. I've always approached life the same way, [but this] made things sharper."
"Who would say, 'I'd love some cancer and give me a dose of COVID?'" Bridges mused while speaking with People. "But my ability to receive all the love and give it was just heightened. Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way," he said.
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