James Michael Tyler has revealed that he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer back in September 2018.
Best known for playing the Central Perk employee Gunther in the sitcom 'Friends', James Michael Tyler opened up on Today about the diagnosis.
"I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones," Tyler said. "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."
James Michael Tyler said that the illness was first identified during an annual check-up.
He said: "I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen.
"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."
After further testing, Tyler was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Genetic testing identified the illness as genetic and not environmental.
The actor took hormone therapy, which he said "worked amazingly for about a year," allowing him to "go about life regularly" while taking three drugs daily.
James Michael Tyler said that during this period he was "feeling fine" and "had no symptoms". He even participated on a 'Friends' special on the Today show at the time.
However the cancer eventually spread to his bones and spine, leading to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body. He can no longer walk.
The cancer mutated "right at the time of the pandemic," Tyler said.
The actor is currently undergoing chemotherapy which is "aggressively" fighting the cancer.
James Michael Tyler appeared on the recent 'Friends' reunion virtually.
He said: "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? … I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.'"
He's emphasised that his appearance should be "light-hearted" as he connected with the cast again. Many of them as well as the producers know of his illness and have been very supportive.
The actor emphasised that screening and early diagnosis are essential, advising people: "Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly checkup, 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."
"A lot of men, if they catch this early, it's easily treatable," Tyler added. "I don't want people to have to go through what I've been going through. This is not … an easy process."