Jeff Bridges says that his tumor has shrunk considerably, but that his COVID recovery has been a longer, more complicated process.
Speaking to AARP for the magazine’s latest cover story, Bridges offered a status update on his cancer treatment and spoke about how he reasoned through returning to work after his bout with COVID-19.
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The actor, who spoke to the magazine a few days ahead of filming the second season of The Old Man, shared that his health is mostly back and that the 9-by-12-inch tumor he at one point had in his stomach has shrunk considerably amid his treatment. (The actor publicly announced he had been diagnosed with lymphoma in October 2020 and shared in September 2021 that his cancer was in remission.)
“I was doing those fight scenes for the first episode of The Old Man and didn’t know that I had a 9-by-12-inch tumor in my body,” Bridges said, before noting that his tumor has since shrunk “to the size of a marble.”
Where he has found the most challenges with his health is in his COVID-19 recovery. Bridges was being treated for his cancer at the same time he contracted the virus, a tricky situation for someone whose immune system was already struggling. The recovery process, he said, is still ongoing.
“A lot of getting better was a matter of setting really small goals. 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 5 feet?'” he recalled.
The actor, who has previously shared that he contemplated his own death while battling two illnesses, also considered — if he did happen to survive — whether he’d be able to work again.
“I didn’t think I’d ever work again, really,” he told the magazine. “So at first I said, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ But eventually that became, ‘Maybe I can.’ I have to admit that I was still frightened of going back to work.”
What ultimately changed, he said, is the same kind of shifted perspective that got him through his COVID episode. “I began to think of my recovery as a gift being presented,” he said.
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