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Jeff Bridges almost died when he contracted COVID-19 during his cancer battle.
The ‘Big Lebowski’ actor – who has been in remission since September 2021 – was undergoing chemotherapy for his non-Hodgkin lymphoma when he caught the respiratory illness in January 2021.
He told PEOPLE magazine: “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.”
As well as fighting cancer – having revealed his diagnosis early in 2020 – he also hadn’t been vaccinated as it wasn’t available yet.
He added: “I had no defense. That’s what chemo does — it strips you of all your immune system. I had nothing to fight it.”
The 72-year-old star admitted the affects of COVID were much worse than his cancer, as the illness left him hospitalised for five months, where he was in intense pain and had to be put on oxygen.
He said: “COVID made my cancer look like nothing.”
His recovery – which he described as “baby steps” at first – saw him undergo convalescent plasma treatment, which uses blood from people who ahve already recovered from the coronavirus.
He then had to work on physical therapy to regain his strength, but despite the difficult period, he was glad to be able to spend time with his loved ones.
Jeff – who has children Isabelle, 40, Jessica, 38, and Haley, 36, with his wife Susan, as well as grandchildren – admitted the situation wasn’t ideal, but there was a bright side.
He explained: “Who would say, ‘I’d love some cancer and give me a dose of COVID?’
“But my ability to receive all the love and give it was just heightened. Everything was turned up in the most beautiful way.”