Friends Actor James Michael Tyler Reveals He Has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer: 'It's Gonna Probably Get Me'
"I don't want people to have to go through what I've been going through," said James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends, while raising awareness for prostate cancer screenings
James Michael Tyler, the actor who portrayed Central Perk coffee shop worker Gunther on Friends, has revealed his battle with prostate cancer.
Appearing on the Today show Monday, the 59-year-old actor opened up to host Craig Melvin about receiving the diagnosis in September 2018. He was told during a routine physical that he had advanced prostate cancer that had spread to his bones.
Tyler said of his prognosis, "I've been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. ... It's stage 4 [now], late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it's gonna probably get me."
He was then placed on a hormone therapy that "worked amazingly" for a year or so. But "right at the time of the pandemic" last year, Tyler explained to the outlet, the cancer "progressed" and spread throughout his body, affecting his spine, which led to paralysis of his lower body. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
Tyler appeared virtually on the HBO Max Friends reunion special, which premiered last month. The star - who played Gunther for 10 years on the beloved sitcom - explained that he still wanted to be part of the event, even if not in-person.
"I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities. It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn't wanna bring a downer on it, you know?" he said. "... I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.' "
He told Today that his goal now is to "help save at least one life by coming out with this news" and encouraging people to get a PSA screening, which is a prostate-specific antigen test, to detect the disease early on.
"There are other options available to men if they catch it before me. Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly check-up, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It's easily detectable. ... If it spreads beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with," he said.
"A lot of men, if they catch this early, it's easily treatable. I don't want people to have to go through what I've been going through," said Tyler. "This is not ... an easy process."
He later added, "It's made me, personally, just realize how important every moment is, every day. And fighting. Don't give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals."
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This story originally appeared on people.com