Jeff Bridges' Cancer Battle
- Jeff Bridges, 73, could’ve acted in the 1975 horror film series “Jaws,” according to an extract of director Steven Spielberg’s new book.
- Its evident that Bridge’s decision to turn down acting in “Jaws” hasn’t impacted his acting career as over the course of his career, he has won an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.
- Bridges, who starred as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski in the 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” revealed his battle with lymphoma in October 2020.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the disease Bridges fought, is a cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the immune system.
Bridges was actually one of director Steven Spielberg’s first choices to star as marine biologist Matthew “Matt” Hooper, a deuteragonist of the 1975 film “Jaws,” which is based on the Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel.Read More
It “details the creative processes that resulted in numerous classic films like ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, ‘Jaws,’ ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘The Color Purple,” Schindler’s List,’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan.'”
In the extract of Spielberg’s book, shared in Vanity Fair, he explains, “Richard Dreyfuss was not my first choice either. I went to Jon Voight first, and he said no. I think we interviewed Timothy Bottoms as well as several other actors, including Jeff Bridges.
“I was a big fan of ‘The Last Picture Show’ I was going after everyone in the cast from that film, including Bottoms and Bridges. We got turned down or they weren't available. These things happen all the time.
Spielberg continued, “Richard Dreyfuss got the part because I loved [George Lucas’s] ‘American Graffiti’ . George was the one who told me, ‘Why don't you cast Ricky Dreyfuss?’ I sought a meeting with Richard, who said he was interested in seeing Jaws, but he wasn't interested in being in it.
“I was persistent, and [Jaws co-screenwriter] Carl Gottlieb, who knew Richard well, kept saying to him, "Come on, it will be fun." So, Richard accepted another meeting with me, and I talked him into it.”
Its evident that Bridge’s decision to turn down acting in “Jaws” hasn’t impacted his acting career as over the course of his career, he has won an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Jeff Bridges' Lymphoma Battle
Jeff Bridges first opened up about his lymphoma cancer diagnosis on social media in October 2020, saying, "I have a great team of doctors, and the prognosis is good."
He received his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis not long after “The Old Man” production was paused in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the immune system.
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Bridges, who also battled COVID-19 during his cancer treatment, underwent chemotherapy and ultimately became cancer-free after his tumor decreased in size.
By September 2021, the actor revealed on his blog that his lymphoma had entered remission.
"The 9" x 12" mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble,” Bridges wrote. "Covid kicked my ass pretty good, but I'm double vaccinated and feeling much better now."
In a previous interview with Esquire, Bridges said the hard times gave him more appreciation for life, saying “I'll be honest. I didn't know if I was going to make it. I was on death's door there for a while in the hospital â€¦ When I finally went back to work, after a two-year hiatus, it was the most bizarre kind of thing. It felt like a dream."
"I came back after all that time, and saw the same faces [while shooting The Old Man], the same cast and crew," he added. "It was like we had a long weekend. I gathered everyone and I said, 'I had the most bizarre dream, you guys.' I was sick and out, but all that feels like a gray mush now."
Bridges is the star and executive producer of the FX show, which is based on Thomas Perry's bestselling novel of the same title. In “The Old Man,” he acts as Dan Chase an ex-CIA member who's being hunted by assassin Gbenga Akinnagbe.
What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which has a few different subtypes, starts in a type of white blood cell known as the lymphocytes, which are part of the immune system. Once a diagnosis is received, a doctor must determine whether the cancer is indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive, and if the lymphocytes being affected are B-cells or T-cells. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. And the types of treatment needed are dependent on the type of subtype a patient has.
"For patients with indolent lymphomas, sometimes patients may not require therapy at the time of diagnosis, if they're asymptomatic or have a low burden of disease, whereas patients with more aggressive lymphoma would require initiation of treatment," Dr. Jennifer Crombie, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
Dr. Crombie noted that when a patient is diagnosed with an aggressive type of lymphoma, "we do treat patients with chemotherapy.
"That’s the standard of care and our most common regimen that we use for patients is something called R-CHOP,” she continued.
Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: What's the Difference?
The first differentiator is whether you have Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma has distinctive, giant cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. The presence of these cells, which can be seen under a microscope, will help your doctor determine which of the two lymphoma types you have.
There are a few other important differences to note. For one thing, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is much more common. And you're more likely to be diagnosed with it after age 55. People usually develop Hodgkin lymphoma at a younger age.
Another difference is that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to spread in a random fashion and be found in different groups of lymph nodes in the body, while Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to grow in a uniform way from one group of lymph nodes directly to another.
There's no screening test for lymphoma, so being aware of the risk is important. You may be at a higher risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma if you've been exposed to a virus like HIV, have another autoimmune disease or have a family history.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms
Some common symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:
- swollen glands
- night sweats
- weight loss
Thriving as a Cancer Survivor
As we’ve seen in Bridges’ lymphoma battle, it is certainly possible to thrive following a cancer journey.
For example, college student-athlete Marecya Burton received an ovarian cancer diagnosis at age 20. She had been looking forward to graduation, but her life took a turn when she had to move home to begin cancer treatment.
"That was definitely challenging for me," Burton previously told SurvivorNet. "I was looking forward to graduating."
She also had hoped to obtain a law degree after graduation another dream she had had to put aside for treatment.
She said, "I really had to, in a sense, put my life on hold. Sometimes I look at where I am, and I can't help but wonder, would I be further had I not had my diagnosis?"
Despite not going to law school, Burton found joy in teacher and obtained a job at a high school in Baltimore, Maryland.
"I wouldn't change my career for the world," she said. "It's so fulfilling.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff