Grammy Award-winning singer and performance icon Celine Dion has shelved her upcoming and already-delayed tour and canceled next summer’s shows as she faces a difficult diagnosis: a one-in-a-million neurological disorder that impairs her ability to walk and sing.
In a powerful video message posted on her Instagram page Thursday, Dion explained that this condition — stiff person syndrome — has been behind the spasms affecting her recent performances.
With evident emotional difficulty, the 54-year-old opened her message by apologizing to fans for it “taking me so long to reach out to you. I miss you all so much.”
Dion said she has always been an “open book” with her fans, but this particular life hurdle poses an overwhelming personal and professional challenge. At times pausing to catch her breath or sigh, she says she has been grappling with the reality that she can’t perform at the level — “always 100%” — right now to which she was accustomed.
She hadn’t been ready to talk about it publicly earlier.
“I’m ready now,” Dion said.
She went on to acknowledge she had been dealing with health problems for some time and stiff person syndrome appears to be the reason. Near tears, Dion said, “Unfortunately, the spasms 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.”
Clearly pained by the reveal, Dion said she had no choice but to postpone her “Courage” tour, which was to restart in February after several delays. Her spring 2023 shows were moved to 2024 and her summer 2023 concerts canceled.
“All I know is singing. It’s what I’ve done all my life. And It’s what I love to do the most,” Dion said, the weight of the burden evident on her face as she acknowledged the breadth of her struggle.
She said she has a great team of doctors alongside her and thanked her “precious children” and her fans for their love and encouragement.
“I’m working hard with my support, medicine, therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again,” Dion said — adding that actualizing that potential is contingent upon her focusing on her health right now.
“I have hope that I’m on the road to recovery. This is my focus. And I’m doing everything that I can to recuperate,” Dion said — and, after a heavy sigh, continued.
“Take care of yourself. Be well. I love you guys so much and I really hope I can see you again real soon.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, stiff person syndrome is diagnosed in about one of every million people. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed, and typical onset comes between the age of 30 and 60. People with autoimmune disorders and certain cancers, like breast and lung, are more likely to get it.
Symptoms develop over time — they may take months to notice or years. It’s a degenerative condition, and the speed of decline varies by person. There is no known way to prevent stiff person syndrome, nor do scientists know what causes it, according to The Cleveland Clinic. Learn more here.