Singing Legend Celine Dion Says She ‘Nearly Died’ Due to Condition

Canadian singer Celine Dion has revealed that she came close to death in a battle with the little-known illness Stiff Person Syndrome. The 56-year-old said her health has improved, but she was afraid she would lose her life during what she called a “scary time.”

The revelations were contained within a new documentary chronicling Dion’s life. In a recently released trailer, the acclaimed singer states that she had been diagnosed with a “very rare neurological disorder,” adding that she was not previously ready to discuss the issue publicly. She also spoke of her desire to begin performing again but has struggled to get her voice back to where it once was. 

Celine Dion received the devasting diagnosis in December 2022 and consequently canceled a series of concerts in Europe. She describes how the disease has impacted every aspect of her life, weakening her muscles and her vocal cords and impacting her singing ability. Rumors of ill health have surrounded the singer for years, and she has consistently denied eating disorders but admitted to confidence struggles stemming from a youth that included bullying related to her slight frame. “I was not pretty, I had teeth problems, and I was very skinny,” she said. 

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) affects around one in a million people and is characterized by rigidness and muscular stiffness. It primarily impacts the truncal muscles, and symptoms include severe spasms. Sufferers can also experience slurred speech and vision problems and can be unsteady on their feet. It usually develops in people aged between 40 and 50 and begins with pain in the legs and a feeling that one’s feet are too large, making walking challenging. 

In some cases, the illness can affect chest muscles, causing shortness of breath. It can impact parts of the body or the entirety, and its causes are not entirely understood. However, it is thought to be one of a range of autoimmune disorders that cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue.