LOS ANGELES: Actor James Michael Tyler, who played Central Perk waiter Gunther on the hit sitcom “Friends”, said he has stage four prostate cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.
The 59-year-old actor revealed he was diagnosed with the disease in September 2018 after a routine check-up.
“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 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’,” Tyler said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.
After he missed a test during the pandemic, the cancer spread to his bones and he can no longer walk.
“Late stage cancer,” he told host Craig Melvin.
“Eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me,” the actor added.
Tyler, who made a brief appearance on the “Friends” reunion special last month via Zoom, said he chose not to reveal his diagnosis during the event but was “happy to be included” in all the festivities.
“It was bittersweet, honestly. 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’,” he said.
The actor also said the cast and crew knew about his diagnosis.
“David Schwimmer (who played Ross Geller on the show) has corresponded with me via Instagram. The producers are aware, they’ve been aware for a long time,” he said.
Tyler also urged men to get tested early to be able to battle the disease through an early diagnosis.
“There are other options available to men if they catch it before me. 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. If it spreads beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with,” he added.