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Céline Dion Plans Las Vegas Show amid Stiff Person Syndrome Struggles: "I'm Back"


Fri 14 Jun 2024 | 09:07 AM
Céline Dion
Céline Dion
Yara Sameh

The show must go on! Canadian music icon Céline Dion is preparing for a new show in Las Vegas despite her ongoing battle with Stiff Person Syndrome.

In December 2022, the My Heart Will Go On songstress, 56, told fans she had been diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, an incurable autoimmune and neurological disorder that causes rigidity in the torso and limbs, and canceled her world tour and left her unable to tour and sing.

Stiff-person syndrome (SPS), also known as stiff-man syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive muscle stiffness and spasms. The spasms can be painful and come and go and can worsen over time. The stiffness usually affects the torso muscles, but can also affect the arms and legs.

In a new interview with the BBC, Dion described feeling the first signs of the disorder as she noticed small changes in her voice.

“It was just feeling a little strange, like a little spasm, my voice was struggling, I was starting to push a little bit," she said.

Dion attempted lowering the key she sang in to help her voice, saying she couldn’t cancel shows that were already scheduled through the next year and a half and sold out.

But the realization that it wasn’t tour fatigue forced her to reschedule the European leg of her tour and then cancel it entirely as she learned to adapt to the condition.

She has since been taking medication and physical therapy to help reduce the spasms, allowing her to sing again.

“My voice will be rebuilt,” the singer added. “I mean, it started a while ago already. My voice is being rebuilt as we speak, right now.”

“We have been working so hard to put this show together because I am back,” Dion noted, referring to the new show she is putting together in Las Vegas. “I’ll be on stage. I don’t know when exactly, but trust me I will scream it out loud. I can’t wait.”

The singer revealed in a recent interview that she tried to hide her symptoms for years after they first appeared because her husband and manager Rene Angelil was diagnosed with cancer for the second time.

“I had to hide,” she recalled. “I had to try to be a hero. I became a nurse. I became his supporter. I had to protect my kids. Practice my passion. Feeling my body leaving me. Holding on to my own dreams. But do I have dreams, what is going on, I can’t sing.”

She went on to describe taking heavy doses of Valium to deal with the blackouts she started experiencing.

“That amount of Valium can kill you,” she told NBC’s Hoda Kotb. “I did not know honestly that it could kill me. You can stop breathing.”

Dion also opened up about living with Stiff Person Syndrome in her forthcoming documentary "I Am: Celine Dion" by director Irene Taylor. 

Billed as “a love letter to her fans”, Dion’s documentary will highlight “the music that has guided her life while also showcasing the resilience of the human spirit”.

"I Am: Celine Dion" is streaming on Prime Video from 25 June.