What Is Medulloblastoma All About Michael Strahan’s Daughter Isabella’s Diagnosis And Health Updates

  • 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 completed her final round of radiation.

Michael Strahan’s daughter, Isabella Strahan, has been open about her health journey after being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant—meaning, cancerous—brain tumor, in October of 2023. The 19-year-old has gotten to ring the bell after completing radiation therapy, and now she’s starting chemotherapy.

In mid-February, Isabella revealed in a vlog that she’s nervous about starting chemo treatments and specifically, she’s worried about how they’ll make her feel.

“I just got my big bag of chemo,” she says, before pointing out that she had been receiving treatment for six hours. “I’m stressing myself out because I feel like everything could just go wrong with me at any moment … I don’t know, I’m just so terrified that my leg is going to start twitching, or what if my organs just shut down?”

Isabella’s twin sister, Sophia, and her father’s girlfriend, Kayla Quick, were there to support her, and her dad showed up at one point with her favorite breakfast order from Chick-Fil-A. Isabella also gave a tour of her hospital room and pointed out that, whenever she’s able to walk, she likes to do one or two laps around the floor before going back to her room.

The young Strahan first opened up about her diagnosis and treatment in an emotional joint interview with her dad on Good Morning America that aired in January.

Watch Isabella and Michael’s full Good Morning America interview below:

With this latest health update from Isabella, you might be wondering what 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:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred and double vision
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

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.

Dr. Ashley shared with GMA that medulloblastoma has a 90 percent survival rate beyond five years, and the majority of people diagnosed with it “are completely cured.” He also said that, despite how rare Isabella’s tumor is at her age, he is “very optimistic that her outcome’s going to be terrific,” and that she’s “doing really fabulously.”

Overall, Isabella has 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.”

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.”

Her symptoms started in the fall of 2023.

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles student 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.

After the surgery on Oct. 27, Isabella 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.

Isabella began vlogging her experience with cancer after the emergency surgery. In her third video, she said, “I’m very excited to finally be done [with radiation treatments],” before taking her subscribers through her last day of radiation at the New York Proton Center.

“It’s been a long six weeks and I’m very happy to finally heal my head after all of this because the side effects and everything get to you,” she shared in the video.

After her final treatment, Isabella tearfully hugged her father and twin sister, Sophia, before ringing the bell with pride. “So excited to ring that bell…Never thought I’d be ringing the bell,” she said.

At the end of the vlog, Isabella said that she was getting ready for her joint interview with her dad on Good Morning America where she would reveal her brain cancer diagnosis for the first time.

She was feeling good after surgery and radiation.

After the surgery and radiation treatments, Isabella said on GMA that she was “feeling good, not too bad.”

During the interview, Michael also 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.”

She has gone through fertility preservation.

Isabella’s doctor, Dr. David Ashley, director of Duke University’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, also explained during the segment that her next phase of treatment includes “fertility preservation,” which means she has gone through an egg retrieval, per The Daily Mail.

“It was definitely difficult. The process was, I’m not going to lie, it’s painful, but I got through it,” Isabella said.

She has had a port placed.

In a February vlog, Isabella shared that she was getting a port, which was surgically implanted and attached to a vein in her chest for blood draws and treatments.

“Healing from my port surgery,” she says in the video. “Not fun at all. I now have a wire in my chest. They just put radioactive dye in my body and then I have a blood draw, and then an EKG, then I have another blood draw, then I have an MRI. So it’s a busy day.”

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Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.