Celine Dion has been forced to cancel her European tour dates after being diagnosed with a painful and rare neurological disorder affecting her ability to walk and sing.
In an emotional video address to her fans, the Canadian singer revealed she has been struggling for some time with painful muscle spasms that "affect every part" of her daily life.
Dion, 54, said she was recently diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS), an incurable neurological disorder that causes muscle rigidity and episodes of severe spasms.
The Grammy Award-winning star fought back tears in a video shared on her social media pages on Thursday, as she told how the disorder is affecting her vocal cords and stopping her from doing "what I love to do the most".
Opening the video, Dion said: "Hello everyone, 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 on stage talking to you in person.
"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 something like one in a million people.
"While we're still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what's been causing all of the spasms that I've been having.
"Unfortunately, these 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."
The singer went on to say it "hurts" her that she will not be ready to restart her Europe tour in February, as she announced rescheduled dates for spring 2024.
Her announcement came after she was forced to cancel her Las Vegas comeback residency over health issues three months ago, after having also postponed the North American dates of her Courage World Tour earlier this year.
A statement on her official website said at the time that she had been treated for "severe and persistent muscle spasms which are preventing her from performing, and her recovery is taking longer than she hoped".
Dion said that with the support of her "precious" children and a sports medicine therapist, she has been working hard daily to re-build her strength.
"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 it's what I love to do the most," she added.
"I miss you so much. I miss seeing all of you, being on the 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.
"For me to reach you again I have no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment and 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."
Fighting back tears, the singer thanked her fans for their well wishes and ended the video saying: "I love you guys and I really hope I can see you again real soon. Thank you."
What is stiff person syndrome (SPS)?
SPS is a rare, progressive neurological disorder of the central nervous system and affects around one in a million people, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).
There is no cure for SPS but treatment, such as anti-seizure drugs, painkillers and anti-anxiety medication, can help lessen symptoms.
If left untreated it can lead to permanent disability or death.
The symptoms usually develop slowly over several months or years, often beginning with muscle stiffness and discomfort which can come and go - but the stiffness gradually becomes fixed.
Some develop a "statue-like" appearance due to the rigidity.
Many also experience painful muscle spasms that can last a few minutes to several hours and may affect the whole body or certain muscles. The spasms can be triggered by unexpected loud noises, minor physical contact, cold environments, stress, or situations that cause heightened emotions, says the NORD.
Spasms in the chest and respiratory muscles can be serious and require ventilation or emergency treatment, while spasms in the legs often lead to falls.
Experts still do not know the exact cause of SPS and is often underdiagnosed.
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