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The disease, which advanced to his spine and bones, prevented him from appearing onstage for the “Friends” reunion.
James Michael Tyler, the actor who played Gunther on “Friends” announced today on the Today Show that he has advanced prostate cancer.
The actor received the diagnosis in 2018 at an annual checkup, and the disease has spread and is now stage 4.
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones," Tyler explained. "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 told Today.
The prostate cancer prevented Tyler from appearing onstage for 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," Tyler said. "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.'"
Tyler saw Dr. Matthew Retting at UCLA, who determined that his diagnosis was genetic and not related to any environmental factors. Dr. Retting prescribed Tyler hormone therapy, which had him feeling pretty good.
"All I had to do was take a pill in the morning and the night, and boom, life was pretty much normal," said Tyler, noting that he had even appeared on Today during that period for another "Friends" reunion. "... I had it then, but (was) able to function normally. ... I was feeling fine, honestly. I had no symptoms; I didn't feel any symptoms. And it was very easy to regulate."
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler said that the cancer mutated. It eventually metastasized to his bones and spine, leaving the lower part of his body paralyzed.
He is currently undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.
Tyler is hoping that his story inspires other men to get screened, as prostate cancer has a far better prognosis when caught early.
"A lot of men, if they catch this early, it's easily treatable," Tyler stressed. "I don't want people to have to go through what I've been going through. This is not ... an easy process."
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