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Celine Dion Reveals Details of Rare Condition That Will Keep Her From Performing

The beloved singer says she will have to cancel and postpone some scheduled concert dates.

For decades, Céline Dion has remained arguably one of the most recognizable and beloved voices in all of music. Even in the face of her own personal losses, her chart-topping hits and stunning vocal abilities have helped make her a legend. But in a shocking announcement on social media, the singer just told fans that she had been diagnosed with a rare neurological condition known as Stiff Person Syndrome, keeping her from performing some upcoming concert dates she has scheduled. Read on to learn more about this uncommon medical ailment and how the performer plans to move forward.

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The singer just announced her diagnosis with a rare condition that affects "every aspect" of her daily life.

Celine Dion performing
Tom Rose/Shutterstock

In a pair of emotional video posts to Instagram in English and French on Dec. 8, Dion spoke directly to her fans about her recent health troubles. She explained that while she has struggled with symptoms for a while, her condition has also begun to affect her ability to perform.

"I've been dealing with problems with my health for a long time. And it's been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I've been going through," Dion admitted.

"Recently, I've been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called the Stiff Person Syndrome, which affects one in a million people," the star announced. "While we're still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what's been causing all the spasms I've been having."

The Canadian singer added, "Unfortunately, these spasms affect 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."

Stiff Person Syndrome can cause debilitating symptoms.

Woman in Pain

While Dion's diagnosis is sure to bring attention to the condition, the medical community still doesn't understand very much about the rare disorder. According to the Stiff Person Syndrome Foundation, it's described as "a neurological disease with autoimmune features" with symptoms including "muscle spasms, hyper-rigidity, debilitating pain, and chronic anxiety." The Foundation says to "imagine a full-body Charley horse that stops you in your tracks."

Those with the condition can sometimes see terrible outcomes. "Muscle spasms can be so violent they can dislocate joints and even break bones," the Foundation writes. "Patients can be disabled, wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden, unable to work and care for themselves."

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders says the condition can also make everyday life nearly impossible. "People with SPS can be too disabled to walk or move, or they are afraid to leave the house because street noises, such as the sound of a horn, can trigger spasms and falls." The group says that while no specific treatments for the condition have been developed yet, symptoms are often treated with muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medicines, per the BBC.

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Dion says the diagnosis will force her to change and cancel some scheduled tour dates.

Celine Dion is left handed

In light of the life-changing diagnosis, Dion said that she has already been forced to make some changes to planned performances. "It hurts me to tell you that I won't be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February," she said to fans in her video.

Earlier this year, Dion announced that she would push back her planned 2022 tour until 2023, People reports. According to the singer's website, many shows have been shuffled further: Performances scheduled for Feb. 24 through April 11, 2023, have been moved to March 6 through April 22, 2024, while summer shows planned for May 31 through July 17, 2023, have been canceled. Performances set for late summer of next year remain as scheduled.

"I miss you so much. I miss seeing all of you," the singer told fans. "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."

The singer says she is working hard towards recovery—and hopefully performing again.

Celine Dion and son

Despite the gravity of her diagnosis, Dion told fans that she remains committed to getting back on stage. "I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again," Dion explained. "But I have to admit, it's been a struggle."

"All I know is singing," she said. "It's what I've done all my life. And it's what I love to do the most."

Dion said she was fortunate to have "a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better," adding that she also had "my precious children who are supporting me and giving me hope."

Ultimately, the singer said she is remaining optimistic. "I have hope that I'm on the road to recovery. This is my focus, and I'm doing everything I can to recuperate," she said. "I want to thank you so much for your encouraging wishes of love and support on my social media. This means a lot to me."

In a tearful send-off, Dion also showed her gratitude for all the support she's received. "Take care of yourselves. Be well. I love you guys so much, and I really hope I can see you again real soon," she said. "Thank you."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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