Health

Jeff Bridges Reveals His ‘Brush With Mortality’ After Having COVID-19 While in Cancer Treatment

Jeff Bridges is doing okay after recovering from a life-threatening case of COVID-19 that had him hospitalized for weeks and unable to breathe without oxygen assistance until recently. The actor, who was diagnosed with lymphoma nearly a year ago, revealed his “brush with mortality” on his site in a moving new entry in which he shared what it’s like to battle acute illness and long-term symptoms from the virus as a cancer patient

Bridges started his latest health update with the happy news that his cancer is in remission (his tumor having “shrunk down to the size of a marble”). He also noted that his encounter with COVID is “in the rearview mirror” now that its lingering impacts have largely receded. “COVID kicked my ass pretty good, but I’m double vaccinated and feeling much better now,” Bridges wrote.

Bridges and his wife, Sue, were rushed to the ICU earlier this year, shortly after learning in January that Bridges may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the treatment facility where he was getting chemotherapy. (These details come from an earlier entry that was just published but is dated March 28, which Bridges decided not to share “until I got a handle on my COVID,” he explained.)

While Bridges’s wife was hospitalized for five days, Bridges was so sick that he had to stay in the hospital for five weeks. “The reason I’m there so long is because my immune system is shot from the chemo,” he wrote. During that time Bridges experienced “moments of tremendous pain (screaming singing, a sort of moaning song all through the night) gettin’ close to the pearly gates,” he wrote. “My dance with COVID makes my cancer look like a piece of cake.”

Bridges’s recovery has been long. He needed supplemental oxygen for a long time after leaving the hospital and has recently been working out with a physical therapist to breathe more on his own. “We’ve been concentrating on getting me off of the oxygen assistance, which until recently I’ve been needing to walk around,” he wrote in the September 13 entry. With the help of his physical therapist and a “terrific” medical team, Bridges was able to achieve his goal of walking his daughter Hayley down the aisle at her wedding this year. “I was able to not only walk Hay down the aisle, but to do the father/Bride dance with her without oxygen,” he wrote.

The Big Lebowski star ended the March 28 entry with a poignant reflection about finding meaning in his suffering. Despite being in physical pain and nearly dying in the hospital, “all in all, I felt happy and joyous most of the time,” Bridges wrote. “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. It’s a matter of opening ourselves to receive the gift.” 

Bridges continued, “We, (I) often want some other gift that life isn’t giving us. I mean, who would want to get cancer and COVID? Well…it turns out I would. I would, because I get to learn more about love and learn things that I never would have if I never got it.”

He shared one particular “flash” of insight on the true meaning of home that occurred to him while battling COVID: “Home is the place where a person can receive, give, and learn about love. And that place, HOME, is really wherever you are at any given moment,” he wrote, “right now, for instance.” 

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