Dion said spasms have been affecting "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."
Celine Dion, a vocal powerhouse, has revealed a heartbreaking incurable neurological disease diagnosis, which affects about only one of every one million people. In a tearful video, the 54-year-old French Canadian singer disclosed that the rare condition would force her to postpone and cancel a series of upcoming concert dates. "I've always been an open book and I wasn't ready to say anything before, but I'm ready now," the Courage singer says in the video, her voice and eyes brimming with emotion. "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. Recently, I've been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called stiff-person syndrome, which affects something like one in a million people," she continued. "While we're still learning about this rare condition, we now know this has been what's causing all of the spasms I've been having."
According to the Stiff Person Syndrome Foundation, the neurological disease can cause symptoms like "hyper-rigidity, debilitating pain, chronic anxiety," and muscle spasms "so violent they can dislocate joints and even break bones." Those diagnosed with the neurological disorder with features of an autoimmune disease can also become disabled, wheelchair-bound, or bedridden.
Dion said that these spasms have been affecting "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." As she has "no choice" but to focus on her health, she said she "won't be ready" to restart her European tour in February 2023. But she plans on doing a fewer number of shows in the spring of 2024, per CBS News.
"I have a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better and my precious children who are supporting me and giving me hope. I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again," she said in the video. "But I have to admit, it's been a struggle. All I know is singing. It's what I've done all my life and It's what I love to do the most. Take care of yourselves, be well," she concluded the video, clearly emotional. "I love you guys so much. And I really hope I can see you again real soon."
Dr. Pavan Tankha, medical director of comprehensive pain recovery for Cleveland Clinic's Neurological Institute, told PEOPLE that there is "stiffness of the muscles in the trunk muscles, the abdomen, the chest, that comes and goes slowly over time" in those affected by the condition. "That stiffness then spreads to the legs, arms, face and as it progresses can be so bad that it can actually hunch people over. In very, very severe cases, people can't even move."
The expert added that "the muscle spasms are rather unique in the sense that they could either last a few seconds up to a few hours. The triggers for these muscle spasms are the frustrating part. For so many patients, it could be something as simple as loud noise, stress, or even light touch and muscles will go into severe spasms." "We really just take it one day at a time and try to treat the symptoms as best we can," he added. The singer is not new to trying times having lost her husband and manager Rene Angélil to cancer in 2016.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Kevin Winter