Image by Gilbert Flores
Story by Korin Miller/Women’s Health
- Michael Strahan’s daughter, Isabella, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma.
- Medulloblastoma is a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the cerebellum.
- Isabella had surgery to remove the tumor and will begin chemotherapy next month.
Michael Strahan’s daughter, Isabella Strahan, 19, just opened up about being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant—meaning, cancerous—brain tumor, in an emotional joint interview with her dad on Good Morning America.
Isabella, who is a student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said that she began experiencing some intense symptoms at the beginning of October. “That’s when I definitely noticed headaches, nausea, couldn’t walk straight,” she said. But things got worse on October 25, when she woke up and was vomiting blood.
“That was when we decided, ‘You need to really go get a thorough checkup,'” the GMA host explained. “And thank goodness for the doctor. I feel like this doctor saved her life because she was thorough enough to say, ‘Let’s do the full checkup.'”
During an MRI, doctors discovered a tumor that was larger than a golf ball in the back of Isabella’s brain. Isabella had emergency surgery to remove the tumor on October 27, and went through several rounds of radiation treatment. “It’s been a long 30 sessions, six weeks,” she said, noting that she had to learn to walk again after her initial treatment plan.
After the surgery and radiation treatments, Isabella said she’s “feeling good, not too bad.” She also shared that she’ll start chemotherapy next month: “That’s my next step. I’m ready for it to start and be one day closer to being over.”
Isabella also said that she’s “very excited” to be done with cancer treatment, “but you just have to keep living every day, I think, through the whole thing.”
During the interview, Michael shared that he feels like he’s “the luckiest man in the world, because I’ve got an amazing daughter.” The former NFL player continued, “I know she’s going through it, but I know that we’re never given more than we can handle and that she is going to crush this.”
Watch Isabella and Michael’s full Good Morning America interview below:
While this news, you might be wondering what, exactly, a medulloblastoma is, and how it’s treated. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a medulloblastoma?
Medulloblastoma is a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the lower back part of the brain called the cerebellum, according to the Mayo Clinic. This part of the brain is involved in muscle coordination, balance, and movement.
The tumor starts as a collection of cells, which grow quickly and can spread to other parts of the brain, per the Mayo Clinic.
What are the symptoms of medulloblastoma?
People with medulloblastoma in the cerebellum will usually experience the following symptoms, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI):
- Trouble walking
- Balance issues
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
If the tumor blocks the cerebrospinal fluid, patients may also have these symptoms, per the NCI:
- Blurred and double vision
- Extreme sleepiness
What is the treatment?
Treatment for medulloblastoma usually involves surgery, followed by radiation or chemotherapy, or both, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How common is this type of brain cancer?
Medulloblastoma isn’t overly common, but it happens more often in children than adults. An estimated 357 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with medulloblastoma each year, per the NCI. An estimated 3,840 people are living with medulloblastoma right now, the NCI says.
What is the life expectancy with medulloblastoma?
As with all forms of cancer, there is a range depending on how advanced the cancer is, where it’s located, and how much it has spread. However, the NCI says that the relative five-year survival rate for medulloblastoma is 72.1 percent.
Overall, Isabella said that this experience has given her a new outlook on life. “Perspective is a big thing,” she shared on GMA. “I’m grateful. I am grateful just to walk or see friends or do something, ’cause when you can’t do something, it really impacts you.”