Val Kilmer Opens Up for First Time About His Battle with Throat Cancer—and How Cher Helped Him Heal

In his new memoir, I'm Your Huckleberry, the actor opens up about his recent health crisis

Val Kilmer says when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, he was glad to have his good friend Cher by his side.

In his new memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, Kilmer, 60, opens up for the first time about his health crisis and writes how Cher, whom he dated in the early 1980s, helped get him through some of his darkest days.

The 73-year-old music icon invited Kilmer to stay in her guest house while his health was declining and he recalls one particularly terrifying evening at her home.

Cher and Val Kilmer
Cher and Val Kilmer. Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty

“One night I suddenly awoke vomiting blood that covered the bed like a scene out ofThe Godfather. I prayed immediately, then called 911. Then alerted my hostess. Cher stepped in and stepped up,” writes Kilmer who adds that even in all the chaos, she was able to make him laugh.

“And yet even in my grave condition, I saw her scanning the paramedic, who was Gregory Peck drop-dead handsome. Only in Hollywood, right? Despite the fact that I was covered in blood, I caught her eye and bounced my brows like Groucho Marx. Hubba hubba. Cher was bashful to be busted but then couldn’t help laughing out loud at the audacity. Here we were, joking about beauty and desire, while I looked like a stunt man from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and, yes, while my life seemed to be in mortal danger. We laughed out loud before they finished with my vitals and shut me up with an oxygen mask.”

For more on Val Kilmer, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Val Kilmer
Splash News Online

Kilmer underwent a tracheotomy, chemotherapy and radiation and also turned to his Christian Science faith and prayed for healing. Today, he is thankful to be cancer free.

“I have been healed of cancer for over four years now, and there has never been any reoccurrence. I am so grateful,” he says.

Although his speech has been greatly affected by the cancer, he says he hasn’t let it slow him down and has been doing voice exercises every day.

“The fact that my impeded speech could spell the end of my career only served to motivate me,” he writes.

Kilmer has kept busy touring with his one-man show about Mark Twain and this summer he will reprise his role in the Top Gun sequel Maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick is scheduled to open in theaters June 24. I’m Your Huckleberry is available for purchase on April 21.

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