The Friends reunion has got us feeling plenty of emotions, and renewed our interest in all the stars who graced Central Perk. Among them, Gunther, the iconic barista whose undying love for Rachel was one of our favourite ongoing plot lines. The memorable role was played by the talented James Michael Tyler, who appeared across all 10 seasons.
Just this morning, the actor revealed some devastating personal news. The 59-year old told the US Today Show that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2018. His condition has now reached stage 4, and spread to other parts of his body including his bones and spine, which has left his lower body paralysed.
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” he said. “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.”
Tragically, the coronavirus pandemic meant Tyler was unable to attend several appointments with his doctor at the same time the cancer was mutating in his body (which likely worsened the situation).
You might recall his appearance on Zoom during the Friends reunion episode, and looking back on the memory, he refers to it as “bittersweet.”
“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’.”
Now, he’s using his battle to encourage other men to go out and get tested.
“It’s made me, personally, just realise how important every moment is, every day. Don’t give up. Keep fighting.”
“That’s my only reason for coming out like this and letting people know,” he continued. That’s my new role,” he said. “Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly check-up, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It’s easily detectable.”