Art For Cancer Survivors
- Actor and throat cancer survivor Val Kilmer is continuing to create on and off the screen. His latest project, beyond his acting in the recently released Top Gun reboot, centers around a digital artwork collaboration in the form of an NFT.
- Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer where cancerous cells begin in the throat, voice box or tonsils. It is an HPV-related cancer. To reduce the risk of your children developing HPV or an HPV-related cancer, make sure they get the HPV vaccine, particularly between ages 9 and 12.
- A cancer diagnosis can change your life. But creating art, among other things, can be a cathartic process for people during a cancer journey.
And despite the fact that he’s used a voice box to speak since his throat cancer battle, his determination has brought him back to the big screen with his return as Lieutenant Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky in the recently released Top Gun reboot, Top Gun: Maverick.Read More
In partnership with Galaxis (formerly Ether Cards), Kilmer founded Kamp Kilmer – a virtual space that promotes the collaboration of artists of any medium from all over the world.
“I wanted to create an enclave in which all of us bohemians and pirates, actors, poets, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and academics can congregate, connect, and make things with me,” Kilmer said in a press release. “I searched for the ability to enable projects that could evolve and continue beyond my lifetime, all of our lifetimes. I asked: what if the project could run autonomously for generations to come? I call this realm KAMP KILMER.”
Kamp Kilmer is where his newest NFT collaboration entitled “Gob-man Wuz Here” lives. It serves as the first collaborative piece in the Kamp Kilmer Goblin Project.
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The digital piece, which was a collaborative effort with artist and film director Remo Camerota, features a green goblin wearing a batman mask as an odd to Kilmer’s role as Batman in the 1995 film Batman Forever.
“I am grateful to Galaxis for enabling my vision and creating a first-of-its-kind art engine that utilizes cutting-edge blockchain technology that enables the creation of collections of collaborative, dynamic, continuously evolving digital art pieces,” Kilmer said. “Something that was simply not possible prior to the Web3, crypto world.”
Val Kilmer’s Cancer Journey
Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 but didn’t speak publicly about the disease until 2017. He wasn’t considering conventional treatment at first, thinking his Christian Science faith would heal the tumors, but he eventually agreed to undergo chemotherapy for the sake of his children – Mercedes, 30, and Jack, 26, whom he had with his ex-wife, English actress Joanne Whalley, 60.
Kilmer also underwent a tracheotomy – a surgical procedure that connects the windpipe to a hole in the front of the neck – which greatly impacted his speaking voice.
And though he originally kept his cancer battle out of the public eye, Kilmer eventually shared more about his journey through interviews, his memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, and his documentary, Val, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
“I have been healed of cancer for over four years now, and there has never been any recurrence,” he wrote in I’m Your Huckleberry. “I am so grateful.”
Understanding Throat Cancer
Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer where cancerous cells begin in the throat, voice box or tonsils. Some of the main risk factors for this disease include smoking, drinking alcohol, a diet lacking in fruits or vegetables, acid reflux disease and the human papillomavirus (HPV). So, one way to decrease the chances of developing the disease is to get the HPV vaccine.
The American Cancer Society recommends that boys and girls get the HPV vaccine between ages 9 and 12. The organization also stresses that teens and young adults through age 26 who are not already vaccinated should get the HPV vaccine as soon as possible. Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, explains the link between throat cancer and HPV in a previous interview with SurvivorNet.
“There are no screening guidelines to screen for throat cancer, unlike cervical cancer with pap smears. And there are no standard tests to determine if you harbor the (HPV) virus,” she said. “However, there is no concern that you’re going to spread this cancer to your partner or to anyone else, because at this point your partner has already been exposed to the virus and likely cleared it.”
There’s no annual screening for throat cancer, so doctors usually discover the disease when a patient sees them with symptoms that may point to it. Some symptoms include:
- A cough
- Changes in your voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- A lump or sore that doesn’t heal
- A sore throat
- Weight loss
It’s important to note, however, that these symptoms are not exclusive to throat cancer. Still, you should always see a doctor if you have any changes to your health.
Turning to Art during a Cancer Battle
Val Kilmer turned to creating art during his treatment – and he continues to do so today. Looking inward for inspiration can be a very cathartic journey to help get you through the before, during or aftermath of a cancer journey.
Marianne Cuozzo, a three-time cancer survivor, can attest to the power of art. And despite the fact that cancer has essentially been her whole life, Cuozzo has recognized herself as a lot more than a diagnosis by focusing on her life as a mother and an artist.
Cuozzo was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1994 at the age of 28. In 1997, she had a recurrence, and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She had a double mastectomy and originally got implants with reconstruction.
But after years of infections, she decided to remove her implants and “go flat.” Her artwork reflects a deeply personal exploration of body image and sexuality. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Cuozzo tells us how she found comfort expressing herself through her work.
“My artwork is very reflective of my cancer journey,” Cuozzo says. “I’m doing the best I can to feel beautiful in this new body.”
Contributing: Shelby Black