Céline Dion Reveals She Has 'Very Rare' Neurological Disorder
Canada’s Céline Dion has revealed that she is battling an incurable neurological disorder.
“I’ve been dealing with problems with my health for a long time and it has been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I have been going through,” the 54-year-old singer said in an emotional video she shared on social media early Thursday.
Dion said she was recently diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS), a “very rare” disorder that she said hits “something like one in a million people.”
She explained: “While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what is causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having. Unfortunately, these spasms effect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to.”
According to Yale Medicine, SPS is “an autoimmune and neurological disorder that can make the muscles in the torso and limbs alternate between rigidity and spasms.” Symptoms, which typically show in people between 30 and 60, can lead to “difficulty walking and, over time, even greater disability” as well as depression and anxiety.
Dion said she will not be able to resume her tour in Europe next February due to her condition and said she is focused on getting better with the help of a team of doctors and a sports medicine therapist. “I have to admit it’s been a struggle,” she said.
In April, Dion announced she was pushing the European dates on her Courage World Tour for a second time. “I’m doing my very best to get back to the level that I need to be,” she said at the time.
In January, Dion cancelled the remaining shows on the North American leg of her Courage World Tour, including six in Canada. Three months earlier, her reps said the singer was being treated for “severe and persistent muscle spasms” and was pulling the plug on a new residency at The Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, which was scheduled to begin on Nov. 5.
Dion did 52 shows on the Courage tour – which takes its name from her 2019 album –before being forced to stop due to the pandemic.
In Thursday's video message, Dion noted that all she has done in her life is sing. “It’s what I love to do the most,” she said. “I miss seeing all of you, being on the stage, performing for you. I always give 100 percent when I do my shows but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.
“I have no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment and I have hope that I’m on the road to recovery. This is my focus and I’m doing everything I can to recuperate.”
Dion’s husband and longtime manager René Angélil died in January 2016 after a battle with cancer. Two years earlier, the singer announced she was putting her career on hold to care for Angélil following surgery to remove a tumour from his throat.
“I want to devote every ounce of my strength and energy to my husband's healing, and to do so, it's important for me to dedicate this time to him and to our children,” she said, in a statement, at the time.
In a 2016 interview, Dion said the final months of his life were difficult. “To see the man of my life die a little bit more every day… And when he left it was kind of a relief for me that the man that I love, the only man that I kissed, the only man that I loved…
“So the man of my life was my partner and we were one. So when he stopped suffering I said to myself, he’s OK and he deserves not to suffer.”
Listen to music from Céline Dion