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Michael Strahan’s Daughter Isabella, 19, Reveals Brain Tumor Diagnosis: ‘I Don’t Want to Hide It’

Michael Strahan‘s 19-year-old daughter Isabella revealed she was diagnosed with a brain tumor last fall.

Strahan, 52, and his daughter appeared on Good Morning America on Thursday, January 11, opening up for the first time about her battle with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. Isabella told Robin Roberts that she started to experience headaches shortly after she began her freshman year at the University of Southern California.

“I didn’t notice anything was off till probably, like, October 1,” Isabella recalled. “That’s when I definitely noticed headaches, nausea, couldn’t walk straight.”

She initially thought her symptoms were indicative of vertigo, but her condition worsened over the course of several weeks. “I woke up, probably at, like, 1 p.m. I dreaded waking up. But I was throwing up blood,” she added. “I was like, ‘Hm, this probably isn’t good.’ So I texted [my sister], who then notified the whole family.”

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Strahan encouraged his daughter to “get a thorough checkup” and is thankful he did. “I feel like this doctor saved her life because she was thorough enough to say, ‘Let’s do the full checkup,'” he noted.

Isabella underwent an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an MRI before being informed that she had a tumor in the back of her brain that was bigger than a golf ball — and growing quickly.

Michael Strahan's Daughter Isabella, 19, Reveals Brain Tumor Diagnosis: 'I Don't Want to Hide It'
Michael Strahan with daughters Isabella and Sophia. Courtesy of Isabella Strahan/YouTube

“It didn’t feel real,” Strahan recalled. “I don’t really remember much. I just remember trying to figure out how to get to L.A. ASAP. And it just doesn’t feel real. It just didn’t feel real.”

While medulloblastoma accounts for nearly 20 percent of childhood brain tumor cases — about 500 children are diagnosed each year — Strahan pointed out that it’s “rarely” seen in a patient of Isabella’s age. “But it’s still scary because it’s still so much to go through,” he said. “And the hardest thing to get over is to think that she has to go through this herself.”

Michael Strahan's Daughter Isabella, 19, Reveals Brain Tumor Diagnosis: 'I Don't Want to Hide It'
Michael Strahan with daughter Isabella. Courtesy of Michael Strahan/Instagram

He continued, “Doctors said, ‘You shouldn’t risk trying to put her on a plane to get her to the East Coast or to another doctor. We know what it is and we should get it out as soon as possible.'”

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Isabella had an emergency surgery on the day of her 19th birthday, to remove the mass. (Strahan was absent from his cohosting duties on GMA for nearly three weeks from late October to mid-November 2023 due to “personal family matters.”)

While recovering after her procedure, Isabella’s twin sister, Sophia, was by her side. “She was heavily medicated, as you could imagine,” Strahan said of his daughter. “But she would have conversations. She had a lot of her friends and they would come over just to sit with her. And there were times when she was in a lot of pain. She was sleeping a lot.”

Isabella’s treatment continued with radiation therapy and a month of rehabilitation. She revealed on Thursday that she recently “got to ring the bell” following six weeks of proton radiation sessions. Her “next step” is chemotherapy, which she’ll begin at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham, North Carolina, in February.

“I’m feeling good. Not too bad. And 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,” the college student told Roberts. “It’s been, like, two months of keeping it quiet, which is definitely difficult.”

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After initially keeping her diagnosis under wraps, Isabella will share her journey in a YouTube series in collaboration with Duke. “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 people, maybe [those who] are going through chemotherapy or radiation can look at.”

Michael Strahan's Daughter Isabella, 19, Reveals Brain Tumor Diagnosis: 'I Don't Want to Hide It'
Sophia, Michael, and Isabella Strahan. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Her health scare has given her a new “perspective” on her life. “I’m grateful,” she said. “I am grateful just to walk or see friends or do something, ’cause when you can’t do something, it like, really impacts you.”

Strahan has also been inspired by his daughter’s journey. “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,” the retired NFL player added. “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.

Strahan shares his twin daughters with ex-wife Jean Muggli. He previously welcomed daughter Tatiana and son Michael Jr. with his first wife, Wanda Hutchins.

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