Celine Dion’s sister has shared a devastating update on the singer’s health amid her diagnosis with stiff person syndrome.
The My Heart Will Go On singer, 55, revealed her diagnosis with the rare neurological disorder last year that causes progressive muscle stiffness.
Her health struggles led to the postponement and eventual cancellation of her world tour, but Celine assured fans that she was determined to perform again.
Now, her sister Claudette has revealed the star and her family are working closely with researchers that specialise in the condition.
‘We can’t find any medicine that works, but having hope is important,’ she told French Canadian publication Le Journal de Montreal.
‘I honestly think that she mostly needs to rest. She always goes above and beyond [when performing], she always tries to be the best and top of her game.
‘At one point, your heart and your body are trying to tell you something. It’s important to listen to it.’
She also shared that their sister Linda is now living with Celine at her Las Vegas home, who updates Claudette on her condition when she can’t speak to her one-on-one.
Fans of the singer have showered her in love following her diagnosis, and have been eager to support her with each update.
Here is what we know so far about Celine’s diagnosis and how it has affected her career, from performing to recording new music.
When was Celine Dion diagnosed with stiff person syndrome?
The singer announced her diagnosis in 2022 in an Instagram post sharing that she would be postponing her world tour.
Posting a press release on December 8, the headline read: ‘Celine Dion reschedules Spring 2023 shows to 2024, and cancels eight of her summer 2023 shows. ‼️’
A personal message from the singer was included in the caption, and read: ‘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…
‘It hurts me to tell you that I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February.” – Céline.’
Celine also addressed the news in a video, explaining: ‘Recently I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called stiff-person syndrome which affects something like one in a million people.
‘While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having.’
She was met with an outpouring of love from her famous friends, including Jennifer Hudson and Katharine Foster.
What is stiff person syndrome?
Stiff-person syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological disorder that most often causes progressive muscle stiffness (rigidity) and repeated episodes of painful muscle spasms, according to the National Organisation of Rare Diseases.
The condition mainly affects the central nervous system, made up of the brain and spinal cord, and ultimately leaves sufferers as ‘human statues’ as it progressively leaves people unable to walk or talk.
As the disease progresses, patients sometimes become unable to walk or bend.
It affects twice as many women as men and symptoms can present at any age, but predominantly begin to show in your 30s and 40s.
The symptoms of the syndrome include muscle stiffness or rigidity, or painful muscle spasms.
Early on, stiffness may come and go and symptoms may progress slowly, but eventually, the stiffness remains constant.
There is no cure for SPS, but pain symptoms can be managed with anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants, and pain relievers.
Will she continue to tour and release new music?
When she shared her SPS diagnosis with the world, Celine spoke about how the condition had made her vocal exercises challenging.
‘Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal chords to sing the way I’m used to,’ she explained.
She also spoke about how she was working with a sports medicine therapist to build her strength, but admitted ‘it’s been a struggle’.
The announcement saw her world tour postponed, which was already rescheduled from earlier this year when Celine suffered a health setback.
At the time, it was said she had been dealing with severe muscle spasms which were preventing her from performing.
Celine told fans: ‘I’m so sorry we have to change our tour plans for Europe one more time; first we had to move the shows because of the pandemic, now it’s my health issues causing us to postpone the shows.
‘I am doing a little bit better…but I’m still experiencing some spasms. I need to be in top shape when I’m on stage. I honestly can’t wait, but I’m just not there yet… I’m doing my very best to get back to the level that I need to be so that I can give 100% at my shows because that’s what you deserve.’
In May this year, the singer cancelled her world tour but insisted she is ‘not giving up’ on performing again.
‘It is with tremendous disappointment that we have to announce today the cancellation of the Courage World Tour,’ an announcement on her Instagram page read.
‘I’m so sorry to disappoint all of you once again. I’m working really hard to build back my strength, but touring can be very difficult even when you’re 100%,’ she was quoted as saying.
‘It’s not fair to you to keep postponing the shows, and even though it breaks my heart, it’s best that we cancel everything now until I’m really ready to be back on stage again.
‘I want you all to know, I’m not giving up… and I can’t wait to see you again!’
Tickets for the 42 canceled performances – including planned appearances in Paris later this year, and across the UK next April – will be refunded, the singer confirmed.
Despite her struggles, Celine got back into the studio earlier this year for the soundtrack to Love Again, a new movie that she also starred in alongside Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan.
The album was released in May and marked her first new music since the release of her 2019 record, Courage.
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