During an emotional interview on Good Morning America on Thursday (Jan. 11), Michael Strahan and his daughter Isabella, 19, disclosed that she has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Isabella is currently undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. This common life-threatening tumor arises in the cerebellum, a part of the brain located at the base of the skull. According to the Mayo Clinic, Medulloblastoma stands as the most common form of cancerous brain tumor among children.
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She first learned about her condition in late October and underwent emergency surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to remove the mass on Oct. 27, a day before her 19th birthday.
“I didn’t notice anything was off ‘til probably like Oct. 1st. That’s when I definitely noticed headaches, nausea, couldn’t walk straight.”
A few weeks later, the University of Southern California student began waking up “throwing up blood.”
“I was like, ‘Hm, this probably isn’t good.’ So I texted [my sister], who then notified the whole family,” she remembered.
Michael explained, “That was when we decided, ‘You need to really go get a thorough checkup.’ 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.’”
Isabella emphasized the importance of persevering through life’s challenges during her appearance alongside her father.
“I’m feeling good. Not too bad,” said Isabella, who will start chemotherapy at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham, North Carolina, next month. “That’s my next step. I’m ready for it to start and be one day closer to being over…I’m very excited for this whole process to wrap. But you just have to keep living every day, I think, through the whole thing.”
In late October, Michael Strahan was noticeably absent from Good Morning America for over three weeks, citing “personal family matters” as the reason, without divulging further details about his leave.
“I literally think that, in a lot of ways, I’m the luckiest man in the world, because I’ve got an amazing daughter,” Michael, 52, said in the interview with his fellow GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts. “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.”
Though Medulloblastoma is common, with about 500 children a year diagnosed with it, Michael said it’s “rarely” someone her age. “It’s still scary because it’s still so much to go through,” he confessed. “And the hardest thing to get over is to think that she has to go through this herself.”
After her surgical procedure, Isabella went through multiple sessions of radiation therapy, along with a month of rehabilitation.
“I got to ring the bell yesterday,” Isabella told cancer survivor Roberts, 63. “It was great. It was very exciting because it’s been a long 30 sessions, six weeks.”
With her twin sister Sophia offering support, Isabella was guided through the process of learning to walk again. She intends to chronicle her journey in a new YouTube series, aiming to contribute to the benefit of Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center.
“It’s been like, two months of keeping it quiet, which is definitely difficult. I don’t wanna hide it anymore ’cause it’s hard to always keep in,” she said. “I hope to just kind of be a voice, and be [someone] who maybe [those who] are going through chemotherapy or radiation can look at.”
Despite enduring lingering side effects from her treatment, Isabella expressed that she is “feeling good” and eagerly anticipates returning to her normal everyday life.