Every Treatment Val Kilmer Has Undergone Due To His Cancer Diagnosis That Permanently Damaged His Vocal Cords


Top Gun and Willow star Val Kilmer’s cancer diagnosis and treatment were the subject of speculation for a long time amongst his fans and critics alike. Kilmer finally opened up about his battle against cancer through a series of interviews and the release of his memoir and documentary where he revealed that his cancer treatment eventually led to permanent damage to his voice.

Kilmer’s voice was lost, but with the assistance of Sonantic, a UK-based voice-cloning company, he was able to regain it. The company used his previous voice recordings to create a voice that closely resembles his original voice. Thanks to his children who played a crucial role in his road to recovery.

When Was Val Kilmer Diagnosed With Cancer?

Kilmer was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, but kept his condition private while he was being treated. Despite speculation, he repeatedly refuted any claims of having cancer.

He took to Facebook to share a post in January 2015 that read, “Thank you for all your sweet support. But I have not had a tumor, or tumor operations or any operation. I had a complication where the best way to receive care was to stay under the watchful eye of the UCLA ICU. Friends have assisted who know my spiritual convictions and have been most sensitive and kind for the extra effort in making sure there’s minimum gossip and silly talk. I am praying for a speedy return to the boards as they say. God bless you all, and please don’t worry. Love and deep affection, Val.”

Kilmer also refuted Michael Douglas’ claims suggesting that he had cancer, following the latter’s remarks about Kilmer’s health during a Q&A session in London in October 2016.

Douglas, who had triumphed over stage 4 oral cancer in 2013, spoke with host Jonathan Ross about his experience filming The Ghost and the Darkness with Kilmer. “The picture didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, but I had a wonderful time. Val was a wonderful guy who is dealing with exactly what I had, and things don’t look too good for him.”

Did Val Kilmer Actually Confirm His Cancer Diagnosis?

Kilmer finally confirmed his cancer diagnosis in 2017. When asked about the statement by Michael Douglas in his Reddit AMA in April 2017, Kilmer stated that he “was probably trying to help me cause the press probably asked where I was these days, and I did have a healing of cancer. But my tongue is still swollen altho healing all the time. Because I don’t sound my normal self yet people think I may still be under the weather.”

Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter in December 2017, he shared his two-year battle with throat cancer and how a procedure on his trachea has reduced his voice to a rasp and rendered him short of breath.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, Kilmer also revealed that he had initially declined the conventional medical treatment, relying on his Christian science faith to cure his cancer. He believed that his tumors could be cured if his faith was strong enough. He eventually changed his mind due to the constant pleas of his children who did not share his faith.

“I just didn’t want to experience their fear, which was profound,” he said. “I would’ve had to go away, and I just didn’t want to be without them.”


When asked why he had claimed not to have cancer, Kilmer said, “Because I didn’t have cancer, they said I was denying that I had cancer, and when they asked me, I didn’t have cancer. It was a bit like do you have a broken bone? And if you broke it in high school, you would say no?”

Which Treatments Did Val Kilmer Undergo Due To His Cancer?

Kilmer was subjected to extensive chemotherapy, radiation, and tracheotomy treatments due to his throat cancer. Although he had to endure painful rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it was tracheotomy surgery that finally damaged his voice.

The tracheostomy tube allowed for a healthy flow of oxygen but affected his vocal cords and ability to speak. The treatment also left the actor dependent on the use of a feeding tube, which he often covers with a scarf.

“I can’t speak without plugging this hole in my throat,” Kilmer explained, “You have to make the choice to breathe or to eat.” During an interview on Good Morning America in April 2020, Kilmer candidly shared his journey through these treatments which had a lasting impact on his vocal abilities and permanently altered his ability to speak.

Is Val Kilmer Cured Of Cancer?

Kilmer is cured of his cancer and in remission, although the treatment left permanent damage to his vocal cords. He shared his story in 2021 in his memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, stating that, “I have been healed of cancer for over four years now, and there has never been any recurrence. I am so grateful.” While Kilmer’s doctors view his treatments as a success, the actor attributes his recovery to his faith and prayers. “I prayed, and that was my form of treatment.”

Kilmer also clarified that “I obviously am sounding much worse than I feel,” in his 2021 documentary, Val, which was produced by his children, Mercedes and Jack Kilmer. Kilmer’s memoir and documentary shared deep insights into his personal life and his battle against Cancer.

Despite the impact of the cancer treatments on his voice, Kilmer did not allow it to impede his progress and continues to perform vocal exercises daily. The Top Gun star explained that “Now that it’s more difficult to speak, I want to tell my story more than ever,” in his documentary.

He revealed that what he missed most about his voice was “That I had one!”, “And that I didn’t laugh like a pirate” on the Good Morning America interview. Kilmer also revealed he had started painting in a Twitter post, stating, “When one thing is taken, though, another is given. With little voice, my creative juices were boiling over and pouring out of me. I started creating again, painting, and writing anything I could. I felt the art healing me…”

While Kilmer’s voice is permanently damaged due to his cancer treatments, it is refreshing to see him find his voice again with the use of technology while keeping his fans entertained.