Celine Dion announced early Thursday that she is cancelling plans to return to the stage for her European tour in February and rescheduling multiple 2023 tour dates to 2024 as she struggles to deal with a rare neurological disorder.
The Canadian superstar said in an emotional Instagram video that she was recently diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called “Stiff Person Syndrome” that affects fewer than one in a million people. The condition causes spasms that make it difficult for her to control her movements, including her vocal cords.
Stiff Person Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that not only causes muscles to become rigid but also can create a “heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms,” according to the National Institutes of Health. The federal agency’s website said the condition can leave people with SPS “too disabled to walk or move,” and they can be susceptible to spasms and falls triggered by loud noises. It affects twice as many women as men, and is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases.
The condition is treatable but not curable, the NIH website. says.
The video begins with a Dion sharing a wan smile as she says, “Hello everyone.” She clutches her hands together on her knees as she speaks, and at several points, holds back tears as she explains her battle, which caused her to postpone her Las Vegas residency in October, and later cancel her North American tour.
“I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reach out to you. I miss you all so much and I can’t wait to be onstage talking to you in person,” Dion, who is 54 years old, said in the video, adding that while she’s been dealing with her health problems for some time, she was not yet ready to reveal her diagnosis. “It’s been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through,”
Dion said the spasms have affected “every aspect” of her 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.”
Dion, whose husband René Angélil, died in 2016, credited her “precious children, who are supporting me and giving me hope.”
“I’m working hard with my sport medicine therapists of every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit it’s been a struggle,” the singer said.
“All I know is singing,” she added. “It’s what I’ve done all my life, and it’s what I love to do the most. I miss you so much. I miss seeing all of you being on 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.”
Dion was scheduled to open the European leg of her “Courage” tour on Feb. 24 in Prague, Czech Republic, and to perform in 18 countries through to July. Many of the dates have been rescheduled to 2024, according to her website, but shows in Israel, Greece, Romania Italy and Switzerland were among those cancelled.