James Michael Tyler, famously known for his role as Gunther, Rachael’s employee at the Central Perk café in the show Friends, opened up about his fight with prostate cancer. Tyler talked about his journey during an interview with TODAY on 21 June.
James has been struggling with Prostate cancer since September 2018. Explaining about the disease, 59 years old James told, “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.”
As told by James, the cancer wasn’t caught at an early stage, which had advanced to his other body parts. He got to know about the disease during a regular annual checkup, when he was 56 years old.
Tyler told, “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.'”
He got referred to Dr. Matthew Rettig, a research scientist and oncologist at UCLA, and was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Dr. Matthew was able to use genetic testing, which helped to determine that Tyler’s illness was genetic, not environmental.
Unfortunately, Tyler’s disease held him back from appearing on the Reunion episode of Friends. He told, “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 added, “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.'”
Most importantly, Tyler wants to spread awareness about the disease. “A lot of men, if they catch this early, it’s easily treatable. I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve been going through. This is not… an easy process.”
Tyler told he wants to encourage people to get screened and “save just one life” with his message. “That’s my only reason for coming out like this and letting people know. That’s my new role,” said Tyler.
He added, “It’s made me, personally, just realize how important every moment is, every day. And fighting. 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.”