Jeff Bridges was determined to walk his daughter, Hayley Roselouise Bridges, down the aisle on her wedding day.
The actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2020 and then contracted COVID-19 in January 2021. The 72-year-old announced late last year that his cancer is in remission.
The Oscar winner recently told The Independent that he worked with a trainer to ensure that he could walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding in August 2021.
“The first goal was how long I can stand up,” he said.
According to the outlet, Bridges was only able to stand for 45 seconds at a time. With the help of a trainer, he was able to increase his amount of steps, as well as stabilize his breathing while using oxygen assistance.
Bridges told the outlet that working with a trainer every day pushed him to work harder at achieving his goal.
“Finally, one day I said, ‘Maybe I can do it, you know?’” Bridges recalled. “And it turns out I not only got to walk her down the aisle, but I got to do the wedding dance. That was terrific.”
Hayley, 37, said, “I do” to longtime love Justin Shane in Kestrel Park in Santa Ynez, California. She told Brides magazine that Bridges gave a speech that “touched on a trait of Justin’s that I also mentioned in my vows, which is that kids and dogs love him.”
“I believe this to be an example of his wonderful energy,” she added.
Bridges previously told People magazine that he “was pretty close to dying.”
“The Big Lebowski” star’s terrifying health saga all started one morning while he was doing his usual exercises at home. The actor felt something strange in his stomach and was compelled to get it checked out by his doctor.
“I had a 12-by-9-inch tumor in my body,” Bridges recalled. “Like a child in my body. It didn’t hurt or anything.”
Bridges was diagnosed with cancer. He quickly began chemotherapy by infusion, followed by oral chemo. The tumor began to shrink.
“They got a cocktail that worked, and oh man it worked fast,” said Bridges. “That thing just imploded.”
But then things took a turn for the worse. The star had contracted the coronavirus, and the vaccine wasn’t yet available. The chemo treatment had weakened his immune system, making it difficult for Bridges to fight the virus. The outlet shared that Bridges spent nearly five months in the hospital suffering from extreme pain. He couldn’t even roll over in bed without calling the nurse to help him with oxygen.
“COVID made my cancer look like nothing,” he said. “I was pretty close to dying. 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.”
Bridges’ health improved after his medical team gave him convalescent plasma, a type of therapy that uses blood from people who’ve recovered from an illness. As Bridges regained his strength each day, he started working with a physical therapist three times a week.
Bridges noted that his three daughters and three grandchildren have made him hopeful about his future and what it holds for him.
“Who would say, ‘I’d love some cancer and give me a dose of COVID?’” said Bridges. “But my ability to receive all the love and give it was just heightened. Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way.”