Fighting back tears, Celine Dion shared in an emotional video to fans that she is battling a rare, incurable neurological disorder. Speaking out on Instagram Thursday, the 54-year-old French Canadian native said, “I’ve always been an open book. And 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 talk about everything that I’ve been going through.”
According to TODAY, Dion has been forced to postpone dates on her European tour next year. The Grammy-winning singer announced she has stiff person syndrome (SPS), which she explained “affects something like one in a million people.”
SPS is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as a “rare autoimmune movement disorder that affects the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). People with this condition first experience a stiffening of the muscles of their trunk followed, over time, by the development of stiffness and rigidity in the legs and other muscles in the body.”
The “My Heart Will Go On” vocalist said she suffers from painful, debilitating spasms that affect “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.
“It hurts me to tell you today that this means I won’t be ready to restart my tour in February,” she said, while choking up. “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.”
The Cleveland Clinic says that SPS affects twice as many women than men and while symptoms can occur at any age, they usually develop between the ages of 30 and 60. While researchers don’t know what exactly causes SPS, they believe it is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Treatment is based on the symptoms and can include medications, physical therapy, and anti-seizure drugs to lessen pain. The severity of the syndrome and speed of decline varies from person to person, but the risk of falls becomes a growing concern as the condition worsens.
Dion’s heartbreaking video revealed her emotional pain as well.
“I miss you so much,” she said, according to TODAY. “I miss seeing all of you, being on the stage performing for you. I always give 100% when I do my shows, but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.”
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