Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan and his daughter, Isabella, sat down for an emotional interview with Robin Roberts Thursday to discuss Isabella’s battle with an aggressive brain tumor.
Michael Strahan told Roberts it all began last fall, when Isabella began experiencing excruciating headaches not long after starting college at the University of Southern California. Her father remembers mentioning them to his GMA co-hosts at the desk one morning, but he didn’t think much of it, because "she’s a freshman, enjoying college life."
On Oct. 25, her condition took a concerning turn.
"I woke up … throwing up blood, so I texted my sister, who notified the whole family," Isabella recalled in the interview.
Doctors found a fast-growing, 4-centimeter medulloblastoma tumor on the back of her brain. The next day – the day before her 19th birthday – she had emergency surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
"It sent a signal how serious it was," Michael Strahan said.
After a grueling month of rehab, Isabella moved on to several rounds of radiation treatment – 30 sessions over six weeks. She’s experienced side effects including losing her hair, fatigue, some nausea and a lot of dizziness.
What is medulloblastoma?
Medulloblastoma tumors are the most common type of childhood brain tumor, according to the Mayo Clinic, comprising about 20% of all childhood brain tumors.
MRI machines like this one helped to diagnose Isabella Strahan's aggressive brain tumor (Photo by Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
About 500 kids are diagnosed each year.
Medulloblastomas form in the lower back part of the brain known as the cerebellum.
Symptoms of medulloblastoma include:
- Double vision
- Poor coordination
- Unsteady walk
What’s next for Isabella?
In February, Isabella will begin chemotherapy at Duke Children’s Hospital, where she’ll partner with them to document her journey in a new YouTube series.
(L-R) Sophia Strahan, Michael Strahan and Isabella Strahan attend Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2017 at Pauley Pavilion on July 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images for Fashion Media)
Isabella got emotional as she described the series and her decision to share her very private battle with the world.
"I hope to kind of be a voice, and be a person people who are maybe going through chemotherapy or radiation can kind of look at and find something interesting for their day," she said. "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," Isabella said.
Michael Strahan said despite everything his family has been through over the past few months, he calls himself the "luckiest man in the world."
"I've got an amazing daughter," Michael Strahan said. "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.
"You learn that you're probably not as strong as you thought you were when you have to really think about the real things, and I realized that I need support from everybody," he continued. "You think that I'm the athlete, the tough guy, you know, I can come and handle, I'm the father in the family. It is not about any of that. It doesn't matter. And it's really made me change my perspective on so many things in my life."