James Michael Tyler is battling stage 4 prostate cancer.
The 59-year-old actor – who is best known for portraying Gunther on ‘Friends’ – was diagnosed with the disease in September 2018 but it has spread to other parts of his body and he knows it is “gonna probably get” him at some point.
Speaking on ‘Today’, he said: “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 (now). Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
Signs of the disease were first spotted during a routine annual check up and further tests saw James diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He was then referred to Dr. Matthew Rettig, a research scientist and oncologist who used genetic testing to determine the illness was genetic, not environmental.
The actor embarked on hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year” and meant to was able to “go about life regularly” and felt “normal”.
He said: “All I had to do was take a pill in the morning and the night, and boom, life was pretty much normal… I was feeling fine, honestly. I had no symptoms, I didn’t feel any symptoms. And it was very easy to regulate.”
Sadly, the cancer spread to James’ bones and spine, leading to lower body paralysis, last year.
He said: “I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing. So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.”
The actor – who is currently undergoing chemotherapy – appeared on last month’s ‘Friends’ reunion by Zoom because he didn’t want to “bring a downer” to the show by having to explain his illness in person.
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.'”
James hopes he can “save just one life” by urging men to get screened for PSA, a prostate-specific antigen, which can indicate signs of the disease.
He said: “Don’t give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals. 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.”