Céline Dion Gives Health Update Amid Battle With Stiff-Person Syndrome

Céline Dion isn't letting her stiff-person syndrome diagnosis stop her from living with positivity, saying, "Life doesn't give you any answers. You just have to live it!"

By Sabba Rahbar Apr 22, 2024 7:05 PMTags
Watch: Celine Dion Shares Rare Health Update Amid Battle With Stiff-Person Syndrome

Céline Dion isn't thinking twice about living her best life.

While the "My Heart Will Go On" singer has been on a difficult journey since sharing her stiff-person syndrome diagnosis in 2022, she is set on maintaining the positive attitude she has become famous for.

"Life doesn't give you any answers. You just have to live it!" she said in an interview with Vogue France published April 22. "I have this illness for some unknown reason."

"The way I see it, I have two choices," she continued. "Either I train like an athlete and work super hard, or I switch off and it's over, I stay at home, listen to my songs, stand in front of my mirror and sing to myself."

And as the 56-year-old explained, she's "chosen to work with all my body and soul, from head to toe," to ensure that she's the best she can be. Adding that her current goal is "to see the Eiffel Tower again!"

Céline Dion's Sweet Moments With Her Kids

"I haven't beat the disease, as it's still within me and always will be," she said. "I hope that we'll find a miracle, a way to cure it with scientific research, but for now I have to learn to live with it."

To that end, Céline—who is mom to René Charles, 23, and 13-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy, with her late husband René Angélil—shared that each week she goes through five days of athletic, physical and vocal therapy to help maintain every part of her body from her toes to her singing voice. 

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

And she knows her path to wellness wouldn't be possible without the support she feels from her family, friends, fans and her care team.

"People who suffer from SPS may not be lucky enough or have the means to have good doctors and good treatments," she said. "I have those means, and this is a gift. What's more, I have this strength within me. I know that nothing is going to stop me."

It's a sentiment the Grammy winner has echoed in the past, writing on Instagram for International Stiff-Person Syndrome Awareness Day March 15, "I want to send my encouragement and support to all those around the world that have been affected by SPS. I want you to know you can do it! We can do it!"

And despite her diagnosis—which saw the "All by Myself" singer cancel her world tour in 2022—Céline is keeping her spirits high, even stopping by the Grammy awards in February, where she treated fans to an impromptu performance backstage alongside singer Sonyae Elise.

To learn more about Céline's health battle, keep reading.

April 29, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic had forced Céline Dion to press pause on her Courage World Tour in 2020 and she was looking forward to getting back on the road in 2022. But that spring the singer said she'd be postponing her return until February 2023 while she continued to deal with a lingering health issue.

A note on her website further explained that she'd been treated for "severe and persistent muscle spasms which are preventing her from performing, and her recovery is taking longer than she hoped."

Dion said in a statement, "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 percent at my shows because that's what you deserve."

Dec. 8, 2022

Dion shared that she had been diagnosed with a "very rare" progressive neurological disorder called stiff-person syndrome, surely the first time that most people had ever heard of it.

"As you know, I've always been an open book," she said in an Instagram video. "I wasn't ready to say anything before, but I'm ready now. 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."

She suffered muscle spasms that affected "every aspect" of her daily life, Dion explained, making it difficult to walk sometimes and, saddest of all, it was going to be impossible for her to go back on tour as she'd been planning.

"I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again," Dion said. "But I have to admit, it's been a struggle."

According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms include stiff muscles in the torso, arms, and legs, and greater sensitivity to noise, touch, and emotional distress, all of which can trigger muscle spasms.

April 13, 2023

Who says you can't have some new Céline Dion music when you least expect it? 

She had previously recorded five songs for the rom-com Love Again, and the title track dropped ahead of the film's May 5 release. "I think it's a wonderful feel-good story, and I hope that people will like it, and like the new songs too," stated Dion, who also appeared as herself in the movie starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan.

Dion already had several signature movie tracks to her name—"Beauty and the Beast," "Because You Loved Me" and the Oscar-winning Titanic anthem "My Heart Will Go On"—but somehow she had never been in a movie before. (You can check out her debut in this one on Netflix.)

May 2023

After a three-month delay, Dion canceled her Courage World Tour entirely through April 2024.

"I'm so sorry to disappoint all of you once again," she wrote on Instagram. "I'm working really hard to build back my strength, but touring can be very difficult even when you're 100 percent. 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."

Oct. 30, 2023

Dion was seen out in a very public place for the first time since she shared her diagnosis when she caught a Las Vegas Knights hockey game at T-Mobile Arena with her and late husband René Angélil's three sons, René-Charles, 23, and twins Eddy and Nelson, 13.

The Montreal Canadiens shared footage of the family's meet-and-greet in the visiting team's locker room, Dion telling coach Martin St. Louis (per an English translation) that it had been "an incredible night." She even gave the players a pep talk, advising, "Just stay healthy, strong...do what you do best."

But better yet, according to Canadiens executive Chantal Machabée, their VIP guest sang "a few notes" for them and it was "an incredible moment."

"She's been through a lot, and to see her like this and smiling and being so happy...it's amazing," the team's VP of hockey communications told People. "I know she has good days and not so good days, but this was a very good day, and it was reassuring."

December 2023

Claudette Dion gave a rather dire-sounding update on her sister's health battle, telling 7 Jours (translated from the original French) that the singer—who's the youngest of 14 siblings—didn't have control over her muscles.

"What breaks my heart is that she's always been disciplined," Dion's big sister said. "She's always worked hard. Our mother always told her, 'You're going to do it well, you're going to do it properly.'"

The former judge on Quebec's L'Étoile des aînés (a competition for singers 65 and older) said it was her and Dion's dream that the singer would be able to return to the stage. "In what capacity?" she added. "I don't know."

Jan. 30, 2024

The most promising sign yet that a new day had begun: Dion, who had understandably chosen to take a step back from public life while she battled her condition, was getting ready to give a raw look at what she was going through. 

Amazon announced the upcoming documentary I Am: Céline Dion, directed by Irene Taylor, would reveal the lengths Dion had been going to in hopes she could go back to doing what she loved.

"As the road to resuming my performing career continues, I have realized how much I have missed it, of being able to see my fans," Dion said in a statement, explaining why once more she was opening the door. "During this absence, I decided I wanted to document this part of my life, to try to raise awareness of this little-known condition, to help others who share this diagnosis."

Feb. 4, 2024

The 2024 Grammys may have ended with a few more people believing in the power of love.

As soon as Dion was announced as the night's final presenter (after social media got wind of her presence elsewhere in the building, but still), the audience was on its feet.

The five-time Grammy winner may not have been ready for a spotlight performance on music's biggest night just yet, but she did sing a few bars with Sonyaé Elise backstage, the "Collide" artist sharing the moment on Instagram afterward amid other highlights from her "ICONIC night."

Dion and Taylor Swift also shared an off-stage hug, silencing the immediate uproar over Swift seemingly not paying proper homage to the elder legend onstage when Dion presented her with Album of the Year for Midnights. Not wanting to be an anti-hero on her history-making night, Swift posed for pics with Dion and René-Charles, who had sweetly escorted his mom to the microphone.

Dion also shared some highlights from the icons-only portion of the evening, including photos with Stevie Wonder and Oprah Winfrey.

Celebrating the momentous night with Dion was her longtime stylist Law Roach, who dressed the star in a flowy Valentino dress and striking overcoat, with Tiffany & Co. diamonds upping the sparkle factor.

"This makes me so much Joy!" he captioned a next-day Instagram snap with Dion. "Not just to dress my Queen again but the fact that she's HEALTHY AND HAPPY! The UNIVERSE always PROTECTS and PROVIDES."

April 2024

After a March trip to Boston, where she watched the Bruins take on the New York Rangers at TD Garden, Dion gave an update on her health to Vogue France.

She was still learning to live with stiff-person syndrom, she shared in the article published April 22, but was working her butt off with athletic, physical and vocal therapy five days a week to not let it defeat her.

"The way I see it, I have two choices," Dion said. "Either I train like an athlete and work super hard, or I switch off and it's over, I stay at home, listen to my songs, stand in front of my mirror and sing to myself."

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