Not Letting Cancer Get in the Way of His Dreams
- Actor Val Kilmer, 62, has expressed how overjoyed he was to have been included in Top Gun: Maverick and reunite with his old wingman Tom Cruise from the 1986 original film—especially as a throat cancer survivor.
- As the global blockbuster surpasses 1 billion at the box office, we wanted to share pics from Val’s supportive daughter Mercedes, 30, who gave fans a glimpse of life behind the scenes with her pops.
- The Doors star’s speech was affected by a tracheostomy, which is a surgical procedure that creates an opening through the neck into the windpipe to allow access to a breathing tube.
- Since there is no routine way to screen for throat cancer, doctors usually discover the disease when a patient sees them with symptoms that may point to it. Some symptoms include: a persistent cough, changes in your voice, and difficulty swallowing.
“Finally allowed to post these pics from the @topgunmovie set 🙂 Maverick out now !” Mercedes recently wrote on Instagram with a fun “photo dump” as the kids are saying these days.Read More
Most touching, of course, is the sweet father-daughter pic, and the Val Kilmer army on social media definitely approves.
“So much hotness all around!” actress Lola Kirke wrote, with others referring to the shot as “iconic.”
“looks like fun! val kilmer is a #legend.”
Not only do we agree, but Mercedes looks pretty proud to be there with her dad as she leans in with an embrace, while expressing a soft smile.
Val’s son Jack, 27, is also featured in the post, wearing matching captain hats with his sis in a sassy sibling photo. The kids were present for their dad’s big cameo.
“I was on set, I saw it live and it was extraordinary,” she told Page Six. “It means a lot to my dad as he’s very proud of that film. This is what he loves to do.”
“It was trippy,” Mercedes added of her father rehashing a role he played at 26, “and very special for my dad to be on set with all of his friends who made this movie when they were my age.”
Because of Val’s throat cancer battle, he has been using a voice box to speak, so the “Iceman” returned in a very special way to make it work.
Artificial intelligence company Sonantic gathered decades of old voice clips and audio recordings of Kilmer in order to bring his voice back to life.
The film lived up—and skyrocketed past—the long-awaited hype. The scene between Val and Tom was a fan favorite. The “highlight” and “most moving sequence of the film,” Val’s followers commented on a still photo from his scene. So cool that Val Kilmer’s kids were there with him to witness that special moment, especially after all Val has been through.
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The Kilmer kids were born in Salt Lake City, Utah where Val and their mom, English actress Joanne Whalley, 60, resided for quite some time as a repose from Val’s hometown of Los Angeles. Like her father in his younger years, Mercedes has set up camp in LA as she continues her acting and singing endeavors.
The brother-sister duo were also on hand in Cannes last year to represent their dad when he couldn’t make It out to the premiere screening of his wildly popular documentary, Val, where Jack also spoke of the moment where he witnessed his dad’s triumphant return to Top Gun.’
“They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it,” Jack told PEOPLE on the red carpet. “[My sister] Mercedes and I went down to San Diego to that big naval base for the shoot with Tom Cruise and everyone. And there were hundreds of extras of real pilots coming up to us and telling us that the first Top Gun inspired them to join the Navy and the Air Force. It was one of the proudest moments of being American that you could think of really.”
Val’s passion for the arts—and needless to say, his kids—is what has gotten The Doors and Tombstone star through this most difficult chapter, and it’s highly inspiring to still be experiencing such career highlights when many in his situation would want to give up. Truly inspirational.
Val Kilmer’s Cancer Battle
Val Kilmer privately battled throat cancer after getting diagnosed in 2014. He confirmed his diagnosis in 2017. Actor and fellow cancer survivor Michael Douglas had initially mentioned to press that Kilmer wasn’t doing too well, but then later apologized, according to a post on Kilmer’s Facebook page at the time.
During a rare interview, Kilmer spoke with Good Morning America in 2020. “I feel a lot better than I sound, but I feel wonderful,” Kilmer said.
The actor’s speech was affected by a tracheostomy, which is a surgical procedure that creates an opening through the neck into the windpipe to allow access to a breathing tube.
Kilmer didn’t initially plan to explore conventional treatment, believing his Christian Science faith would heal the tumors, but for the sake of his kids, he agreed to undergo chemotherapy.
In his 2020 memoir I’m Your Huckleberry, the author wrote, “I have been healed of cancer for over four years now, and there has never been any recurrence. 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.
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,” Dr. Geiger 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.”
Since there is no routine way to screen for throat cancer, doctors usually discover the disease when a patient sees them with symptoms that may point to it. Some symptoms include:
- A persistent 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.
Contributing by SurvivorNet staff.