Photo credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com
Friends royalty James Michael Tyler has revealed that he has been secretly battling prostate cancer for the past three years.
The 59-year-old actor confirmed that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer during an appearance on The Today Show on Monday…
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” he told Craig Melvin on Monday’s Today Show.
“I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years,” he continued.
“It’s stage 4 (now). Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
He said that doctors were able to initially treat cancer with hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year,” but then it spread to his bones and spine, which then caused paralysis in his lower body.
James Michael Tyler, whose most famous role is without a doubt loveable Central Perk coffee shop employee, Gunther, said the rest of the Friends cast and crew knew about his diagnosis before the reunion.
He explained that his illness and paralysis are some of the main reasons why he couldn’t make an in-person appearance at the highly-anticipated reunion, appearing only briefly via Zoom…
“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,” he explained, before confirming that it was his decision to appear via Zoom instead of in person.
“It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included,” he continued.
“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.’”
The actor then went into more detail about how he received his prostate cancer diagnosis…
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.’”
James Michael Tyler confirmed that he is currently undergoing chemotherapy which is “aggressively” fighting the cancer, and then encouraged fans to attend their screenings because receiving an early diagnosis could be life-saving…
“My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday. I did that, May 28th. My goal now is to help save at least one life by coming out with this news,” he concluded.
“That’s my only reason for coming out like this and letting people know. That’s my new role.”