In an emotional Instagram video on Thursday, Canadian icon Céline Dion shared that she has been diagnosed with a rare and incurable neurological disease called stiff-person syndrome (SPS). As Global News reports, due to her health, Dion will have to cancel or postpone her upcoming concert dates.
What is stiff-person syndrome?
As Dion explained in her video (which she posted in both English and French), stiff-person syndrome is incredibly rare (Dion noted that it only affects about one in a million people). The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation defines SPS as “a neurological disease with autoimmune features.” The foundation explains that symptoms of SPS “include muscle spasms, hyper-rigidity, debilitating pain and chronic anxiety. Muscle spasms can be so violent they can dislocate joints and even break bones.”
The disease, while very rare, is often difficult to diagnose, and it takes an “average of seven years to identify. It is often mistaken as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, Psychosomatic Illness, Anxiety, Phobia and other autoimmune diseases,” according to the foundation.
Due to the disease, patients of SPS can be “disabled, wheelchair bound or bed-ridden, unable to work and care for themselves.”
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What has been Céline Dion’s experience with stiff-person syndrome?
As for Dion, the “My Heart Will Go On” singer said this of her symptoms: “While we are still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I have been having.”
‘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.’
In her video, Dion shared that the spasms she’s been having “affect every aspect of my daily life.” She went to on explain that the disorder has sometimes made it difficult for her to walk and said that her illness prevented her from using her “vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to.”
Though Dion just announced her diagnoses, her team revealed in April that she was suffering from muscle spasms, which forced her to postpone her tour at the time.
On Thursday, Dion explained that SPS would also force her to cancel or postpone upcoming concert dates — specifically, the post’s caption said that Dion will have to reschedule Spring 2023 shows to 2024 and cancel eight of her summer 2023 shows.
“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 wrote in the caption of the post. “It hurts me to tell you that I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February.”
Dion explained that she is working with doctors and with a sports medicine therapist in order to regain the ability to perform.
“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.”
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