Friends actor James Michael Tyler has revealed that he is currently battling stage four prostate cancer.
Tyler played the beloved character, Gunther, throughout the course of the sitcom, serving up endless coffees at the Central Perk café. He has spoken out about his struggles with TODAY to try and raise awareness of the importance of prostate checks for men.
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years… It’s stage four [now]. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
“I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is a prostate-specific antigen,” Tyler continued. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number… So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there.
Later adding, “Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.’”
The illness also prevented Tyler from attending the recent Friends reunion. “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,” he said.
Before jokingly adding, “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?… I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”
His message, however, was a simple one: “A lot of men, if they catch this early, it’s easily treatable,” he added. “I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve been going through. This is not … an easy process.”
According to Prostate Cancer UK, one in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Men over the age of fifty and black men are at a higher risk. I test takes a matter of seconds and it could potentially save your life.