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Celine Dion says symptoms of her illness persisted for years: 'I should have stopped'

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Celine Dion says she experienced terrifying symptoms for years and decided to go public with her rare illness once the burden of lying to fans about her condition became "too much."

The Canadian superstar opened up about her life-altering neurological disorder in a preview of her sit-down interview with NBC's Hoda Kotb airing tonight, saying she should have stopped performing earlier to figure out what was wrong.

The 56-year-old singer says she first began noticing symptoms of stiff person syndrome during her Taking Chances World Tour in 2008, as her voice faltered during shows in Germany and her body became more rigid.

Dion says she and her team kept quiet about it because they didn't know what was going on with her health.

It took more than a decade of tests and treatments for Dion to get an official diagnosis of stiff person syndrome, a progressive condition that leads to muscle rigidity and painful spasms.

Dion says she finally shared her diagnosis with the world in December 2022 because she felt like she was "lying" to the people who got her where she is today.

She told Kotb that her body was failing her while her husband René Angélil was dying of cancer and she was trying to raise their kids.

Her condition got so severe that at one point she had "broken ribs" from the spasms, Dion said.

"I should have stopped, take the time to figure it out."

But the singer is vowing to return to the stage, even if she has to "crawl."

“I am Celine Dion, because today my voice will be heard for the first time, not just because I have to, or because I need to. It’s because I want to and I miss it," she said.

The full interview with Dion airs on NBC at 10 p.m. ET.

A documentary about her health struggle, "I Am: Celine Dion," is set to premiere June 25 on Prime Video.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024. 

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