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After a Long Road of Illness, Jeff Bridges' Cancer Is in Remission

The legendary, Oscar-winning actor battled cancer and COVID at the same time, and made it through.

By Matthew Jackson
Jeff Bridges

Three years ago, as the world shut down amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeff Bridges got some very bad news that had noting to do with COVID. The legendary actor known for things like R.I.P.D., The Last Picture ShowThe Big LebowskiIron Man, Tron, and his recent FX series The Old Man, had a massive tumor in his stomach. 

Now, three years later, Bridges has declared that the tumor, once 9 by 12 inches in size and big enough to make him think he had a "bone" in is stomach, is "the size of a marble."

In a new interview with AARP about his road to recovery, Bridges discussed his diagnosis, the symptoms that led up to that diagnosis, and perhaps most strikingly, the battle with COVID that changed everything. Already fighting cancer with regular chemotherapy treatments, Bridges learned in early 2021 that he had contracted the coronavirus, and since the chemo had knocked out much of his immune response, that was very bad news.

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“I got this letter from the chemo place informing me I had contracted COVID," Bridges said. "I had no immune system to fight it. Chemo had wiped that out, which made it really, really tough. For me, cancer was nothing compared to the COVID.”

What followed was weeks in a hospital bed, fighting to stay alive, unable to breathe without oxygen assistance and, sometimes, meditating on the possibility of death itself. When he was finally well enough to leave the hospital, the hard road didn't end, as he spent most of his time at home, still on oxygen, trying to achieve the smallest possible milestones.

“A lot of getting better was a matter of setting really small goals," he said. "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?’"

Though he's hesitant to call his recovery complete, Bridges has made great strides. He was able to return and finish the first season of The Old Man, which was put off for roughly two years while he recuperated, and now he's gearing up for a second season. He may have slowed down a bit, but one of our finest living actors is still ready to work, and for the moment it seems like his health is starting to cooperate again.

Want more Jeff Bridges? Catch him in the documentary Living in the Future's Past, now streaming on Peacock.