‘Friends’ Actor James Michael Tyler Urges Men to Get Checked After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

James Michael Taylor

The Friends reunion, which landed on BINGE in May, simply would not have been the same without an appearance from Gunther — the Central Perk barista played by James Michael Tyler.

Tyler appeared via Zoom for the reunion special, which was shot on Stage 24 on the Warner Bros Studio lot in Burbank, a decision that the 59-year-old actor has now revealed was made as he battles stage four prostate cancer.

Tyler told the Today Show in the US that he first learned of his diagnosis in 2018, saying, “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones.

“I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years … It’s stage 4. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

The actor also revealed that due to the pandemic he had been unable to attend one of his check-ups, during which time the cancer began to mutate. He has been undergoing chemotherapy and told the Today Show that his former castmates knew about his diagnosis. His treatment rendered him unable to attend the reunion taping in person, hence why he appeared virtually.

“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’.”

Attending the special via Zoom also meant that Tyler could be shot from the shoulders up, as his lower body has been paralysed due to the cancer spreading to his bones and spine.

For Tyler, who explained that his diagnosis was caught late, he hopes that’s his story will encourage other men to attend regular check-ups.

Reflecting on what he would have done differently, the actor said, “I would’ve listened to my wonderful wife, who has been my absolute strength throughout all of this.

“I would have gone in earlier and would’ve hopefully been caught earlier. Next time you go in for a basic exam or your yearly check-up, please ask your doctor for a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. test. Caught early, it’s 99% treatable.”

According to Cancer Council Australia, around 17,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Australia. It affects mostly men in older age groups and is rare in men under 50 years of age. The chance of developing prostate cancer is significantly higher in men who have a close relative with prostate cancer; the risks are higher if the relative was diagnosed before the age of 60.

For more information, talk to your doctor or visit https://www.cancer.org.au/

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