Supporters of throat cancer survivor Val Kilmer were likely excited that Joseph Kosinsky, the director to the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” broke his silence about the upcoming film. But he seems intent on keeping alive the mystery as to what Kilmer’s iconic pilot, Iceman, is up to next.Read More
In other words, stay tuned.
Kilmer, 60, also known for “Batman” and “The Doors,” has been battling throat cancer. According to reports, it has reduced his voice to a soft rasp and left him with a tracheostomy, which he covers with a scarf when he appears in public. Supporters are over the moon that he’s in new film, especially as the original put the star on the map.
‘Storytelling Has Become My Hope’
In the aftermath of his throat cancer, the actor has found solace in art and writing. In April, Simon and Schuster will release his new memoir, “I’m your Huckleberry.” The title, borrowed from Kilmer’s movie, “Tombstone,” means “I’m your guy.”
“The cancer was healed,” Kilmer reveals in the book, “but for the time being my speech is distorted. It’s hell to make myself understood. Talking, once my joy, has become my struggle. Over the past year, frustration has been transformed through writing. Storytelling has become my hope and salvation.”
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It’s been a lifetime in the making and I’m finally able to lift the veil on one of my most personal projects. I will be publishing my memoir I’mYour Huckleberry with @simonbooks ! Yes, it’s quite a story and the first thing I can tell you about it is that its got an official release date – April 21, 2020. Find out more about the book and preorder your copy here: http://bit.ly/361QBPH
“Early on, I identified as a writer,” he says. “My family’s history is replete with them: troubadours, historians, doctors, preachers, even a bona fide snake oil salesman. Stories can be revelations. In this book, I offer a few.”
Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer
“The most common symptoms for throat cancer are a painless neck mass that the patient may just feel when they’re shaving or washing their face,” Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist specializing in head and neck cancer at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation.
“Oftentimes, we have patients who are referred from their dentist’s office,” said Dr. Geiger. “They’ll notice a sore that doesn’t seem to be healing, or a wound that is on the inside of their mouth or around their teeth. Then, we set the patients up with a biopsy to confirm cancer or to show something else and we proceed from there.”
“Sometimes it’s painful, but a lot of times they don’t feel anything except just a lump there,” she notes Dr. Geiger, “Their doctors often then will order imaging such as an ultrasound of the neck or a CAT scan and we can see the mass there.”
“Typically, a patient who develops a sore on the tongue or a lesion in the inside of the mouth that doesn’t heal, they’ll be seen by their primary doctor first who then will refer them to an ear, nose and throat surgeon or an oral surgeon,” she tells us.
Primary Causes: Smoking and the HPV Virus
Often, throat cancer is caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It usually goes away by itself, but sometimes it leads to other diseases.
“The most common type of head and neck cancer is HPV-related throat cancer. So this is cancer that starts in the back of the throat such as in the tonsils or the base of the tongue,” said Dr. Geiger.
“The treatment for throat cancer, regardless if it’s caused by HPV or tobacco smoking, is the same. We know that this treatment causes a lot of side effects, a lot of longterm side effects. Difficult swallowing, neck fibrosis or scar tissue so it makes it difficult for the patients to turn their head. There’s a lot of longterm side effects from radiation and chemotherapy that come about.”
Treatment Options for Throat Cancer
“In early-stage throat cancer, the cancer is confined to just what we call the primary tumor in the back of the throat or the tonsils, or the base of the tongue,” said Dr. Geiger. “But if the PET scan shows that the cancer has moved to the lungs or the liver, then our approach would not be to cure cancer but to treat it and to keep it under control,” she said. “It’s really complicated because there’s three stage 4s. It’s not like breast cancer where once you’re Stage 4, you’re incurable,” she continued.
“In more advanced throat cancer cases, which is actually the most common stage that we see,” she added, “in addition to the primary tumor, lymph nodes of the neck are involved.”
“Patients who have disease that has spread outside of the head and neck region, meaning below the clavicles, into the lungs or into the liver, we call that distant metastatic disease and by definition, those patients are considered incurable,” she continued, “So our efforts at treatment would be focused on palliative therapy, controlling the disease but, unfortunately, not curing it.”