James Michael Tyler, known for his role as the barista Gunther in Friends, shared his stage four prostate cancer diagnosis on Today this morning. Taylor was first diagnosed in 2018 following a routine doctor’s exam.
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler tells Craig Melvin. “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.”
Unfortunately, Tyler did not receive an early diagnosis, but he started hormone therapy, which he says “worked amazingly for about a year.”
“All I had to do was take a pill in the morning and the night, and boom— life was pretty much normal,” Tyler recalls. After optimistic results in the beginning of treatment, the cancer spread to his bones and spine, eventually leading to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body.
“I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,” Tyler says. “So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.”
Tyler is currently undergoing chemotherapy and says it’s “aggressively” fighting the cancer. He urges men to receive PSA, or prostate-specific antigen tests early and regularly for a better prognosis.
“Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly checkup, please ask your doctor for a PSA test,” Tyler tells Today. “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.”
Tyler appeared in more than 150 episodes of Friends from 1994 through the 2004 finale, however he did not make an appearance on the recent Friends reunion special.