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’s lymphoma in October 2020, then contracted COVID-19 in January 2021. The 72-year-old announced late last year that his cancer was in remission.
The Oscar-winning actor recently told The Independent that he was working with a coach to ensure he could walk his daughter down the aisle for her August 2021 wedding.
“The first goal was to find out how long I could stand,” he said.
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According to the outlet, Bridges could only stand for 45 seconds at a time. With the help of a trainer, he was able to increase his step count, as well as stabilize his breathing while using oxygen assistance.
Bridges told the outlet that working with a coach every day made him work harder to achieve his goal.
“Finally, one day I said, ‘Maybe I can do it, you know? ‘” Bridges recalled. “And it turns out that I not only got to walk her down the aisle, but I also got to do the wedding dance. It was awesome.”
Hayley, 37, said “I do” to her longtime love Justin Shane at Kestrel Park in Santa Ynez, Calif. She told Brides magazine that Bridges gave a speech that “addressed a trait of Justin that I also mentioned in my vows, which is that kids and dogs love him.”
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“I believe it’s an example of his wonderful energy,” she added.
Bridges previously told People magazine that he “was about to die.”
The ‘The Big Lebowski’ star’s terrifying health saga began one morning while he was doing his usual exercises at home. The actor felt something strange in his stomach and had to have 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.”
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Bridges was diagnosed with cancer. He quickly started infusion chemotherapy, followed by oral chemo. The tumor started to shrink.
“They got a cocktail that worked, and oh man, it worked fast,” Bridges said. “This thing just imploded.”
But then things took a turn for the worse. The star had contracted the coronavirus, and the vaccine was not yet available. The chemotherapy treatment had weakened his immune system, making it difficult for Bridges to fight off the virus. The outlet shared that Bridges spent nearly five months in the hospital suffering from extreme pain. He couldn’t even turn over in bed without calling the nurse to help him with oxygen.
“COVID has made my cancer look like nothing,” he said. “I was about to die. The doctors kept telling me, ‘Jeff, you have to fight. You don’t fight.’ I was in surrender mode. I was ready to leave. I was dancing with my mortality.”
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Bridges’ health improved after his medical team gave him convalescent plasma, a type of therapy that uses the blood of people who have recovered from illness. As Bridges regained strength each day, he began working with a physical therapist three times a week.
Bridges noted that his three daughters and three grandchildren have made him optimistic about his future and what’s in store for him.
“Who’d say, ‘I’d like some cancer and give me a dose of COVID? ‘” Bridges said. “But my ability to receive all the love and give it has been strengthened. Everything went in the most beautiful way.”
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Jeff Bridges says he worked with a trainer to walk his daughter down the aisle after terrifying health battle – Reuters