James Michael Tyler, Who Played Gunther On ‘Friends,’ Reveals He Has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer
The Friends actor who played has Gunther has opened up about his 2018 cancer diagnosis.
James Michael Tyler, 59, said he is on chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. He revealed he has “been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years.”
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler told Today. “It’s stage 4, late-stage cancer, so eventually, it’s [going to] probably get me.”
Tyler is well-known for his role as Gunther in Friends. The actor made guest appearances in Episodes, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Scrubs and Just Shoot Me.
Tyler discovered he had prostate cancer in September 2019 during a routine physical through a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Initially, he was being treated through hormone therapy. Tyler said this method “worked amazingly for the first year,” but during the pandemic, the cancer spread to his spine, leading to paraplegia.
“I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,” he said.
Tyler explained why he didn’t make a physical appearance to the Friends reunion episode, which aired on HBO Max in May. He had initially planned “to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities,” but decided against that because of his condition.
“It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included,” he said. “It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t [want to] bring a downer on it, you know? I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.'”
Tyler told Today that he caught his diagnosis late and that things might have been different had he “gone in earlier” and “hopefully caught earlier.”
“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,” he advised. “If it spread beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with.”
Tyler said that his prostate cancer diagnosis and ongoing treatment have been difficult, but he does not “want people to have to go through what I’ve been through.”
“My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday,” he said. “I did that. My goal now is to help at least save one life.”