James Michael Tyler, The actor who portrayed Central Perk coffee shop worker Gunther on Friends, is opening up about his battle with prostate cancer.
In an appearance on the Today show this past Monday, the 59-year-old revealed to host Craig Melvin about receiving the diagnosis in September 2018. He was informed during a routine physical that he had advanced prostate cancer which 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.”
Tyler was then placed on a hormone therapy that worked well for around a year but at the time of the pandemic last year, Tyler revealed that his cancer “progressed” and spread throughout his body. It affected 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, revealing how he still wanted to be part of the event in some capacity.
“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 divulged to Today how now, his goal is to “help save at least one life by coming out with this news.”
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“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.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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