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'Friends' Actor James Michael Tyler Reveals Cancer Diagnosis

·3 min read

James Michael Tyler, who essayed the role of Central Perk employee Gunther in the sitcom Friends, revealed that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He told Today that he got the news from his doctor after his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, at the age of 56.

"“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."" - James Michael Tyler, to Today magazine

"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 added.

Decades after the last Friends episode, Friends: The Reunion premiered on HBO Max. While the show focused on the main cast, some supporting cast members also attended. While Reese Witherspoon (Rachel's sister Jill), Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (Ross and Monica's Parents), and Maggie Wheeler (Janice) appeared live, Tyler (Gunther) attended virtually via Zoom.

"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," he told Today.

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""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 Michael Tyler, to Today about the 'Friends' reunion

The actor, who is currently undergoing treatment, advised men to get regular health check-ups to catch a diagnosis early. "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 said.

When asked if the Friends cast-- including Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matt Le Blanc, Matthew Perry, and Lisa Kudrow-- knew about the diagnosis, Tyler revealed that the show's producers were aware, and had been for a long time. He also added that David had kept in touch on social media.

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