KEY POINTS

  • James Michael Tyler revealed he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018
  • The "Friends" star said he continues to undergo chemotherapy
  • Tyler decided to share his condition to encourage others to get early screenings for prostate cancer

James Michael Tyler has revealed his stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis after appearing on "Friends: The Reunion" last month.

On Monday, the 59-year-old "Friends" actor appeared on "Today" to speak about his cancer journey. Tyler revealed that he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018, but it was not caught early.

"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," he said.

The actor said he was placed on a hormone therapy that "worked amazingly" for a year. However, things took a turn amid the pandemic when he "missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing."

Tyler said cancer "progressed" and spread throughout his body, and he suffered fractures in his bones and tumors up and down his spine. It eventually led to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body. He is still undergoing chemotherapy.

He decided to share his diagnosis to encourage others to get early screenings and to "help save at least one life by coming out with this news."

"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 check-up, please ask your doctor for a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) 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," Tyler explained.

"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," he added.

The actor said the disease made him realize "how important every moment is." 

"Don't give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals," Tyler added.

Tyler popularly played Central Perk employee Gunther, who had a crush on Jennifer Aniston's Rachel, on "Friends." He was among the cast members who appeared on HBO Max's "Friends: The Reunion" last month. However, he decided to only appear 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," he shared. "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.'"

Tyler noted David Schwimmer and the producers were aware of his illness.

The actor also appeared on "Scrubs," "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and Matt LeBlanc's post-"Friends" series "Episodes."

James Michael Tyler NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 17: Actor James Michael Tyler, who plays Gunther on "Friends" greets fans Fans of Warner Bros. Television’s hit comedy "Friends" celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series’ premiere at the Central Perk pop-up in lower Manhattan, open today September 17 through October 18, 2014 in New York City. Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for Warner Brothers