Isabella Strahan Was Diagnosed With Brain Cancer : Medulloblastoma Explained

People who have been speculating about Michael Strahan’s absence from Good Morning America last fall now have an answer they weren’t expecting: the morning show co-host was out because one of his daughters, Isabella, was diagnosed with brain cancer. In the duo’s interview with Robin Roberts, Ms. Strahan talks about experiencing symptoms of excruciating headaches, nausea, and the inability to walk straight in early fall during her first semester at the University of Southern California. However, she initially brushed off her symptoms because she believed she was suffering from vertigo. When she began throwing blood, she knew the condition was more serious. After a thorough check-up and an appointment for an MRI, Ms. Strahan got a call from her doctor to meet her at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. After arriving, she learned there was a fast-growing tumor called medulloblastoma. It was 4cm, larger than a golf ball, and growing in the back of her brain. She had emergency surgery for its removal the day before she and Sophia, her twin sister, turned 19.
What is Medulloblastoma?
According to the Mayo Clinic, medulloblastoma is a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the lower part of the brain called the cerebellum, which plays a part in muscle coordination, balance, and movement. The medulloblastoma cells spread through the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
The condition accounts for 20% of all childhood brain tumors and is more common in younger children (ages five to nine). But it can also impact adults between the ages of 20 and 40.
Medulloblastoma Symptoms
According to the NIH, people with medulloblastoma in the cerebellum may have:

Issues with walking, balance, and/or fine motor skills

If the tumor blocks the Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), this can lead to increased pressure inside the skull. This problem is known as hydrocephalus.
Signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus may include:

Blurred and double vision
Extreme sleepiness
Seizures and even passing out

If medulloblastoma has spread to the spine, symptoms may include:

Weakness or numbness in the arms and or legs
A change in normal bowel or bladder habits
Spinal pain

What is the Treatment?
Ms. Strahan is undergoing all the necessary steps to treat her cancer. She began with surgery and afterward went through the process of freezing her eggs. Next, 30 sessions of radiation over a six-week period. At times, she felt fatigue and dizziness and experienced bouts of nausea later in the process. Next month, she will begin chemotherapy at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center. For some patients, bone marrow transplants and clinical trials may be prescribed. The five-year survival rate for medulloblastoma is 72.1%.  Ms. Strahan’s doctor discussed her diagnosis and treatment here.
What is Next for Isabella Strahan?
After staying quiet about her diagnosis, Strahan wants to be a voice that brings information and hope to people with cancer. She is partnering with the hospital to document her journey on a YouTube channel.


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