Actor Val Kilmer may have gone through some difficult times, but he always found a way to make his darkest days a little bit brighter. He’s confirmed to Closer Weekly that he’s beaten oral cancer, and revealed his art helped him heal.

Val tells Closer that it gives him “a kind of meditation,” adding “I do it for me. Like writing poetry. On occasion, I’ll write a love poem, but mostly it’s an exploration for myself.” In fact, his creativity has carried him throughout most of his life. “I’ve made art all my life. It’s a great joy.”

View this post on Instagram

My animal spirit in Indy, Indiana at #indianacomicon

A post shared by Val Kilmer (@valkilmerofficial) on

MORE: Anson Williams Opens up About Beating Cancer — See What He Revealed

He credits a lot of his inspiration to his brother, Wesley, who sadly died in 1977 at age 15. “He was a remarkable comedian, artist, sculptor, animator, and filmmaker almost from birth. He was a dervish every day of his life, hence my inspiration,” Val confessed.

News of Val’s cancer first broke back in October 2016 when his BFF Michael Douglas accidentally spilled the beans on his diagnosis. After Val found out, he addressed his worried fans. “[Michael] was probably trying to help me ’cause press probably asked where I was these days, and I did have a healing of cancer, but my tongue is still swollen although healing all the time,” Val said at the time. “Because I don’t sound my normal self yet people think I may still be under the weather.”

MORE: Olivia Newton-John’s Good Friend Speaks out on the Star’s Breast Cancer Battle

Now that the Top Gun star is feeling better, he’s focusing on being a great father to his two kids, daughter Mercedes, 25, and son Jack, 22. “They have two of the best minds I know,” he enthused. And if Val has learned one thing from his experiences, it’s never to take anything for granted. He says of his life today: “I am more grateful.”

For more on Val Kilmer, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!