Thriving Through Cancer
- Actor Jeff Bridges, 71, has been battling lymphoma since late last year, but the good news is he sounds really great on a recent podcast and his good-humored, chill personality hasn’t skipped a beat.
- The ‘Big Lebowski’ star and his daughter Isabelle authored and illustrated a book called ‘Daddy Daughter Day,’ which helps benefit No Kid Hungry.
- Experts tell SurvivorNet how essential it is to stay active and live your passion during a cancer journey; it can often lead to a better outcome.
Academy award-winner Jeff Bridges is an actor, musician, photographer, and an activist, not to mention a loving father and family man. Unfortunately, The Big Lebowski star has been battling lymphoma since late last year, but the good news is he sounds really upbeat on a recent podcast and his good-humored, chill personality hasn’t skipped a beat.Read More
Bridges and his daughter Isabelle were guests on the Add Passion And Stir podcast with Billy Shore to talk about their meaningful project together: The father-daughter duo authored and illustrated a book called Daddy Daughter Day, which benefits No Kid Hungry. Bridges is very passionate about ending childhood hunger.
Bridges said that the work with his daughter helped him reflect on what’s important.
“The book really sparked my mind. When I was in the midst of making movies as a younger guy, I was very focused and really self involved I gotta say, but as you get older you realize that the value that you have and what’s really precious in life is these relationships,” he said. “And there’s no stronger relationship you can have than with your family, and to nourish that.”
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Bridges says he has a lot of hope that childhood hunger in our country can be eradicated with the strength and generosity of people coming together. “I’ve been very fortunate … I can’t imagine how rough and how heartbreaking it would be to not be able to provide nutrition for my kids,” Bridges said. “That certainly inspired my actions of ending hunger.”
Jeff and Isabelle told Shore, a food justice activist and Bridges’ close pal, how their collaboration initially came about.
Isabelle Bridges-Boesch, a mother of two and Moms Empowerment coach, says that she started writing children’s stories for her children, and she would often share them with her father. She remembers reading this specific story to her father who “looked at her with sparkly eyes” and said that they should publish it.
Bridges, who did the drawings, said that it was quite a process. “It took five years, could you believe it!”
“Those five years really kept us linked up… This was a great reason to get together with my daughter,” Bridges said. “Like my father, (Lloyd Bridges) I was away for much of Isabelle’s childhood, you know, my work, making movies. And so I tried to do my best to kind of make up for some of that, which I really regretted not being around as much as I would have liked to have been, with their childhood, but to, you know, figure out stuff to do with my kids when they’re adults.”
The book is about a little girl who runs in the room and declares to her father that it’s “Daddy Daughter Day” and goes on to create the perfect day with her dad. They create, imagine, and dream together as they go on an adventure.
They also created a website DaddyDaughterDay.com where they share family stories and a family lullaby that had been passed down through the Bridges family starting with Jeff’s father.
Bridges’ Lymphoma Battle
Bridges announced that he was battling lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymphatic system, in October 2020, and used his typical humor to lighten the mood.
“As the Dude would say… New S**T has come to light,” Bridges wrote, sharing his lymphoma diagnosis. “The prognosis is good,” he wrote. “I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.” He also added that he was thankful for his doctors.
As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light.
I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good.
I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.
— Jeff Bridges (@TheJeffBridges) October 20, 2020
Bridges gave his highly supportive, appreciative fans an update in December, tweeting that he was feeling good, he shaved his head, got a puppy named Monty and turned 71. He included a photo of himself with an open-mouthed smile, a freshly shaved head, looking cuddly with his new puppy laying on his lap.
Here’s the latest:
• Feeling good
• Shaved my head
• Got a puppy – Monty
• Had a Birthday – 71, man
— Jeff Bridges (@TheJeffBridges) December 14, 2020
Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that begins in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. Bridges hasn’t specified which type of lymphoma he has, and there are more than 40 different types. Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the main two sub-categories with the latter being more common. The type of white blood cells linked to the disease determines the distinction. If doctors are unable to detect the Reed-Sternberg cell—a giant cell derived from B lymphocytes—then it is categorized as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Thriving Through Cancer
Studies prove that patients who are able to stay upbeat and positive often have better treatment outcomes. It doesn’t really matter what you do, but experts such as Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology, recommend doing whatever makes you happy.
“We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better outcomes,” Chase told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “So working on your emotional health, your physical well-being, your social environment [and] your emotional well-being are important and can impact your survival. If that’s related to what activities you do that bring you joy, then you should try to do more of those activities.”
“A positive attitude is really important,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles tells Survivornet.
If you have just been diagnosed with cancer, negative feelings are normal. Totally normal. Men and women react differently. Anger, shame, fear, anxiety. It’s to be expected. Experienced doctors will tell you that people who find a way to work through the emotions and stay positive do end up doing better.
“My patients who thrive, even with stage 4 cancer, from the time that they, about a month after they’re diagnosed, I kind of am pretty good at seeing who is going to be OK,” Dr. Murrell says. “Now doesn’t that mean I’m good at saying that the cancer won’t grow. But I’m pretty good at telling what kind of patient are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who, they have gratitude in life.”