- Jeff Bridges was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2020.
- He contracted COVID-19 when he was in chemotherapy.
- Jeff said he was “pretty close to dying” during his health crisis.
- The actor revealed in May of 2023 that his tumor shrank dramatically.
Jeff Bridges has been through a lot these past few years. The 73-year-old Academy Award winner announced that he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer, in October 2020. Jeff underwent chemotherapy and ended up contracting COVID-19, which nearly killed him because he was so weak. “COVID made my cancer look like nothing,” Jeff told PEOPLE.
In May of 2023, he had some positive news. Following aggressive chemotherapy, he revealed his tumor had shrunk to “the size of a marble” following aggressive chemotherapy treatments. “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,” the acclaimed actor told AARP for a piece published on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Jeff has been open about his health struggles and has credited his wife, Susan Geston, with helping him throughout the scary experience. Jeff’s three children have also supported their famous dad through it all. Here is everything you need to know about Jeff’s health struggles, how he’s doing today, and more.
Jeff Bridges Diagnosed With Cancer
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
Jeff announced his cancer diagnosis on October 19, 2020. He used a line from his iconic character “The Dude” from the 1998 film, The Big Lebowski, to gently break the news. “As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light. I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma,” the actor wrote on Twitter. “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.” In a follow-up tweet, Jeff said that he’s “profoundly grateful for the love and support from my family and friends.”
Jeff received support from so many other celebs on social media after he revealed he has non-Hodgkin lymphoma. George Takei, Marlee Matlin, Rosie Perez, and Patricia Arquette were among the stars who showed Jeff some love.
What Is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is “a general term for cancers that start in the lymph system,” according to the CDC. There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jeff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin, which is a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells that are part of the body’s immune system. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, abdominal pain, chest pain, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, and weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is usually treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
How Long Has Jeff Bridges Been Sick?
It’s been over two years since Jeff announced his cancer diagnosis. He began chemotherapy by infusion and oral chemo and shared his first major health update in January 2021. Jeff said on his website that tumor had already “drastically shrunk.” He said that he “came home elated with the news.”
While he was doing chemotherapy, Jeff contracted COVID-19 before he could get vaccinated. Jeff revealed to PEOPLE that he spent almost five months in the hospital and was “pretty close to dying.” He said, “The doctors kept telling me, ‘Jeff, you’ve got to fight. You’re not fighting.’ I was in surrender mode. I was ready to go. I was dancing with my mortality.” Jeff also explained that his body had “no defenses” to fight the coronavirus, since he was doing chemo. “I had nothing to fight it,” the actor said.
How Is Jeff Bridges Doing Today?
Jeff has made it through his cancer battle! He’s been in remission since September 2021 and even made it through another bout with the coronavirus. He caught COVID-19 for a second time when he was traveling to promote his TV show The Old Man, according to PEOPLE. Jeff spoke to the outlet about what it was like battling cancer and COVID at the same time.
“It just heightened the experience of most of my philosophies in life, and it all gets down to that corny ‘L’ word — love,” he said. “That seems to be what’s running my ship, and going through these tough times, it kind of exacerbated all of that philosophy of love. When you get close to losing something like that, your gratitude and your thankfulness for what you have, the people that you love, and the love that you feel for your loved ones, grows. It just magnifies it, and that was something positive that came out of it.”
Jeff’s wife Susan was so supportive when he was battling cancer. Speaking about the experience to PEOPLE, Susan said, “We didn’t know if he would recover. I said [to the doctors], ‘Save his life. No matter what you have to do.’ ” Susan also called the time Jeff was severely sick “a bad dream,” but noted that “now’s the good dream part.” Jeff told PEOPLE that Susan and his three daughters — Isabelle, 41, Jessica, 39, and Haley, 37 — “were so supportive about the cancer and COVID.” He also said, “It just brought to my attention how much they loved me, and how much I loved them.”
In May of 2023, Jeff told AARP that aggressive chemotherapy had shrunk his tumor to “the size of a marble.” Following his months long hospitalization for COVID-19, he said he wasn’t sure he’d ever go back to work — but revealed that he is now feeling better. “I didn’t think I’d ever work again, really,” he told the publication. “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. Then I began to think of my recovery as a gift being presented.”
“So cut to two years after taking that break,” he continued. “I come back to work, and, man, it was like a dream, as if we’d just had a long weekend or something. I was seeing all the same faces in the cast and crew,” he shared. “Very bizarre. Everybody showed such dedication and hung in. We finished it. I appreciate that.”
Jeff also revealed that he’d felt well enough to walk his youngest daughter Hayley down the aisle at her wedding in August of 2021.