Jeff Bridges' Cancer Battle
- Actor Jeff Bridges has had many a health battle over the last couple of years including his lymphoma, now in remission, and his intense experience with COVID-19.
- Now, the actor is feeling “terrific” as of March this year, and fans are anxiously awaiting the premier of his upcoming series, The Old Man, in June.
- Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. Early symptoms of the disease can be tricky to notice as they may include swollen lymph nodes, fatigue or unexplained weight loss.
Fans of The Big Lebowski star, 72, should be happy to hear that the beloved actor will be back on their screens soon with the release of his new FX series, The Old Man.Read More
“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,” Bridges said during a panel discussion to promote the series. “The protocols — we were still in Covid — made me feel very safe and eager to get down to business and play.”
Jeff Bridges’ Cancer Journey
Bridges broke the news of his cancer diagnosis in October 2020 via social media. He announced his lymphoma diagnosis saying, “I have a great team of doctors, and the prognosis is good.” He also thanked his followers for their “prayers and well wishes” and threw in a friendly reminder to vote.
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He continued to inform fans about his health with various posts on social media and updates under the “Latest” tab on his website. And on Sept. 13, 2021, Bridges gave two very important updates.
“The 9” x 12” mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble,” Bridges wrote announcing that his cancer was in remission.
He also shared the news that he had a harrowing battle with COVID-19 that was, thankfully, “in the rear view mirror.”
“Covid kicked my ass pretty good, but I’m double vaccinated & feeling much better now,” he wrote.
In another entry posted that day that was originally written on March 28, 2021, he shared more details about his experience with the virus.
“On January 7th I get a letter, from the place where I”m getting my chemo infusion for the cancer. The letter tells me I may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus at their joint,” Bridges wrote. “Soon after, my wife Sue and I share an ambulance to the ICU. We both got the ‘Rona.”
He goes on to share that while his wife spent five days in the hospital, he was there for five weeks.
“The reason I’m there so long is because my immune system is shot from the chemo. My dance with Covid makes my cancer look like a piece of cake,” Bridges wrote. “This brush with mortality has brought me a real gift… It’s a matter of opening ourselves to receive the gift. We, (I) often want some other gift that life isn’t giving us. I mean, who would want to get cancer & covid? Well… it turns out I would. I would, because I get to learn more about love, & learn things that I never would have if I never got it.”
Most recently, during the virtual panel discussion on March 29, 2022, to promote The Old Man, Bridges shared that he was feeling “terrific” since beating lymphoma.
Learning about Jeff Bridges’ Cancer: Lymphoma
Lymphoma – like leukemia, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) – is a type of blood cancer. Blood cancers can affect the bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society reports that every 3 minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
More specifically, lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that begins in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma begins when lymphocytes develop a genetic mutation that makes them multiply much faster than normal. This mutation also forces older cells that would normally die to stay alive. From there, the quickly multiplying lymphocytes collect and build up in your lymph nodes, the small glands in your neck, armpits, and other parts of your body.
We don’t know the specific type of lymphoma that Bridges had, but it’s important to note there are more than 40 different types of the disease. 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 the cancer is categorized as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
You might be at a higher risk for lymphoma if you:
- Have been infected with the HIV or Epstein-Barr virus
- Had an organ transplant
- Have a family history of lymphoma
- Have been treated with radiation or chemotherapy drugs for cancer in the past
- Have an autoimmune disease
Symptoms of Lymphoma
One thing to note about lymphomas is this type of cancer often creeps in quietly, without symptoms. And even when symptoms do show up, they don’t necessarily point directly to cancer. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, explained that lymphoma symptoms could be difficult to detect.
“The symptoms of lymphoma, especially if you have a low-grade lymphoma, often are no symptoms,” Dr. Chong explained. “People say, but I feel completely fine, and that’s very normal.”
People with lymphoma do not always have symptoms, but common ones are:
- Swollen glands in your neck, armpit or groin
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling tired
- Swelling in your stomach
No matter what, it’s important to communicate anything unusual happening to your body with your doctor. Even if there’s nothing to worry about, it’s good to rule out the possibility of more serious issues.
Treatment for Lymphoma
Lymphoma treatment, in general, depends greatly on the nature of your specific diagnosis. For non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients, their cancer is more likely to spread in a random fashion and be found in different groups of lymph nodes in the body. Hodgkin lymphoma cancers, on the other hand, are more likely to grow in a uniform way from one group of lymph nodes directly to another.
And even if you’re not diagnosed until a later stage, Dr. Chong assured SurvivorNet that “unlike other cancers, where advanced stage is a death sentence, that’s certainly not the case for lymphoma.”
“We have many treatments with which people can either be cured with advanced stage lymphoma or have very good remissions,” Dr. Chong said. “So it doesn’t change how treatable someone is, even when they do have advanced stage lymphoma.”
Some lymphomas, called indolent lymphomas, might not even need to be treated right away because they’re slow-growing. In this case, careful monitoring – including imaging scans such as PET/CT – is used to track the progress of the cancer and gauge whether it needs treatment yet.
“Where I use PET/CT in my practice quite a bit is if I’m observing a patient … and there is some new symptom or situation which makes me concerned that the patient may be changing from an indolent lymphoma to a more aggressive lymphoma,” Dr. Jakub Svoboda, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, previously told SurvivorNet. “We refer to it as transformation.”