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Celine Dion reveals she's been diagnosed with rare and incurable neurological disease

The National logo The National 08/12/2022 Katy Gillett

Celine Dion, the French-Canadian singer best known for songs such as All By Myself and My Heart Will Go On, has revealed she has an incurable neurological disease called stiff person syndrome.

The syndrome, also called Moersch-Woltman syndrome and formerly stiff man syndrome, affects one in a million people. It is a rare autoimmune movement disorder that affects the central nervous system, according to Cleveland Clinic.

People with this condition experience a stiffening of the muscles in the trunk, then the development of stiffness and rigidity in the legs and other muscles in the body. It can also cause painful muscle spasms that occur randomly or triggered by noise, emotional distress and physical touch, says the clinic's description.

There is no cure, but treatments can slow its progression.

Dion told fans about the diagnosis in a tearful video she shared on Instagram on Thursday, also revealing she's had to cancel her European tour.

"Hello everyone, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reach out to you. I miss you all so much and can’t wait to be on stage talking to you in person," she said.

"As you know, 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 my challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through.

"Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called the stiff person syndrome which affects one in a million people

"While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all the spasms I’ve been having."

Dion explains the spasms affect "every aspect" of her daily life, making it difficult for her to walk and use her vocal chords.

"It hurts me to tell you today that this means I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February," she added.

Canadian singer Celine Dion revealed on her Instagram that she is suffering from a 'very rare neurological disorder'. AFP © Provided by The National Canadian singer Celine Dion revealed on her Instagram that she is suffering from a 'very rare neurological disorder'. AFP

"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 help.

"I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit it’s been a struggle.

"All I know is singing, it’s what I’ve done all my life and its what I love to do the most."

The singer also said she has "hope" that she's "on the road to recovery" and that she's doing everything she can to recuperate.

The cause of stiff person syndrome is unknown, but twice as many women are diagnosed as men, says Cleveland Clinic.

Symptoms can occur at any age but usually develop between 30 and 60 and it's more likely seen in people with other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or thyroiditis and certain cancers including breast, lung and kidney.

Dion first implied she had health issues in January when she cancelled the North American dates for her Courage World Tour, which was meant to run from March 9 to April 22. Three months ago, she'd had to cancel the start of her Las Vegas comeback, again citing health concerns.

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