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Celine Dion's health is back in the spotlight after the pop icon took the stage at the 2024 Grammy Awards, a rare public appearance since her diagnosis with stiff person syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes stiffness and muscle spasms.
Dion presented the last and most prestigious award of the night, album of the year, at the Feb. 4 ceremony, naming Taylor Swift the winner.
She surprised the audience when she appeared on stage and was escorted to the microphone to give a moving speech about the power of music.
"Thank you all, I love you right back,” she said as she received a standing ovation. “When I say, I’m happy to be here, I really mean it from my heart.”
“Those who have been blessed enough to be here, the Grammy Awards must never be taken for granted, the tremendous love and joy that music brings to our lives and to people all around the world,” she added.
For the occasion, Dion sported a pale-pink gown with a mustard-colored coat from Valentino and a chic bob. Stylist Law Roach posted a video of the singer on Instagram at the event with the caption, "We’re BACK…… @celinedion."
Fans curious about Dion's health after her Grammys appearance will be able to get a deeper look at her symptoms and efforts to perform again with the upcoming release of a new documentary about the singer, “I Am: Celine Dion." (A date has yet to be announced.)
Dion canceled her Las Vegas residency in 2021 due to health issues. In December 2022, she shared her official diagnosis of stiff person syndrome, which can affect the muscles used to sing.
She went on to cancel her Courage World Tour through 2024, but shared that she was hopeful she’d be able to perform again.
How is Dion's health today? Will she be able to tour again? Here's what we know her stiff person syndrome diagnosis and previous health struggles.
How is Celine Dion doing now?
Dion seemed to be doing well when she appeared at the 2024 Grammys on Feb. 4.
In fact, Dion even sang behind the scenes at the event, harmonizing with fellow singer Sonyae Elise in a video posted to Instagram. Dion was all smiles as she performed, even if it wasn't on the main stage.
Dion's Grammys moment came just a few days after a press release announced a documentary about her life and efforts to get back to performing despite her stiff person syndrome diagnosis. The release also shared a small update on her health, revealing that she is "on the road to resuming her performing career."
“This last couple of years has been such a challenge for me, the journey from discovering my condition to learning how to live with and manage it, but not to let it define me,” she said. “As the road to resuming my performing career continues, I have realized how much I have missed it, of being able to see my fans. During this absence, I decided I wanted to document this part of my life, to try to raise awareness of this little-known condition, to help others who share this diagnosis.”
The release also described the documentary as “an emotional, energetic, and poetic love letter to music, (which) captures more than a year of filming as the legendary singer navigates her journey toward living an open and authentic life amidst illness.”
Dion previously opened up about her health status in May 2023. At the time that she announced that she was canceling the rest of her tour, she also shared about her efforts to manage her stiff person syndrome, especially when it comes to performing.
On her website, Dion wrote that she’s “working really hard to build back (her) strength,” adding that touring can be very challenging even for people in peak health. But, she stressed that she’s “not giving up” and is determined to return to the stage at some point. “I can’t wait to see you again!” she told fans in her message. She also called having to cancel "a tremendous disappointment."
Prior to her stiff person syndrome diagnosis, Celine’s last major projects were the earlier dates in her Courage World Tour — she completed 52 performances in North America — and filming her first movie in 2021. She starred as herself in “Love Again” alongside Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan. Dion also recorded several songs for the film’s soundtrack, including the ballad “Love Again.”
Will Celine Dion be able to perform again?
It isn’t clear whether Dion will be able to perform again. The press release for her documentary noted that her "road" to resume performing is continuing. She did not perform at the 2024 Grammys, instead announcing the last award of the night.
When she canceled her tour in May 2023, the announcement explained that her symptoms of stiff person syndrome, namely “severe and persistent muscle spasms,” were preventing her from performing.
That said, the singer and her team have both said that they expect her to be able to perform again at some point. For example, in May 2023, Dion stressed that she was trying to regain her strength with the goal of hitting the stage. At the time, her team also said they “have every hope that someday soon” she’ll be able to tour in Europe.
While every person’s situation is different, some people are able to manage the symptoms of stiff person syndrome, Dr. Desimir Mijatovic, a pain medicine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, told TODAY.com in 2022.
“A lot of people are able to make recovery to the point that their condition is stable. They’re not worsening anymore. They can continue to live fairly mobile (lives),” he said.
Mijatovic is not involved in Dion’s care, but he said it is not outside the realm of possibility that Dion could perform once more.
“People like Celine are oftentimes able to overcome a lot of amazing things, and I definitely think it’s something that’s possible,” he said.
Celine Dion shared she has stiff person syndrome in 2022
Dion revealed in December 2022 that she’d been diagnosed with stiff person syndrome and would be postponing tour dates due to the condition. In May 2023, she canceled her remaining tour due to the disorder and shared that she was still being treated for it. Her health problems had previously forced her to announce tour date cancelations in January 2022 and April 2022.
Stiff person syndrome is a rare neurological disorder. Symptoms of the progressive condition may include stiff muscles in the torso, arms and legs, as well as muscle spasms that may be triggered by noises, touch or emotional distress, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The condition can have a severe effect on quality of life. People with stiff person syndrome may develop hunched postures and may struggle to walk or move. People may also fall more frequently because they lack the muscle reflexes to catch themselves, which can lead to injury.
Dion opened up about her stiff person syndrome diagnosis in a video posted on her Instagram page in December 2022.
“We now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having,” she said. “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.”
“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,” she continued. “All I know is singing. 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 the stage performing for you. I always give a hundred percent when I do my shows, but my condition is now allowing me to give you that right now,” she added.
There is no cure for stiff person syndrome, although symptoms may be kept under control with certain drugs, as well as physical, occupational and aqua therapy, according to Yale Medicine.
She had to cancel performances for ear surgery
In 2018, Dion had to cancel nearly a month of shows at her Las Vegas residency to undergo ear surgery.
The singer was dealing with a condition called Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction, which occurs when the tube that connects the middle ear to the sinus cavity remains open, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The condition was causing Dion to have “hearing irregularities and making it “extremely difficult to sing,” her team explained in a Facebook statement at the time.
Dion’s team said the singer planned to undergo minimally invasive surgery to correct the problem.
“My luck hasn’t been very good lately... I’ve been so looking forward to doing my shows again and this happens…. I just can’t believe it!” Dion said in a message to fans on Facebook.
She had fertility challenges and did IVF
She also opened up about her fertility issues as she and Angélil tried for a second baby.
“We didn’t want to feel like we were playing yo-yo. ‘I’m pregnant. I’m not pregnant. I’m pregnant. I’m not pregnant,’” Dion told Oprah Winfrey in 2010. “So, we didn’t want to do this thing. But we did (have) a miscarriage. We tried four times to have a child. We’re still trying. We’re on the fifth try. And I tell you, if five is my lucky number, this fifth try has got to come in.”
In the end, the singer underwent six rounds of IVF.
“These treatments were truly hard on my wife’s body,” Angélil told the French-language Le Journal de Montreal, as translated by People. “It wasn’t simple at all.”
Dion’s fertility treatments were eventually successful and in October 2010, she gave birth to twin boys, Nelson and Eddy.
She has addressed speculation about her weight
Dion has long pushed back against speculation that she has an eating disorder.
“I don’t have an eating problem, and there’s nothing more I can say about it,” she told People in 1999.
“I’m very thin,” she added. “I don’t even train. I’m lucky.”
She also asked people to stop commenting on her weight in a 2019 People interview, addressing online speculation about her physique.
“If I like it, I don’t want to talk about it. Don’t bother. Don’t take a picture,” she said. “If you like it, I’ll be there. If you don’t, leave me alone.”
She addressed rumors about her appearance in another People interview earlier that year, saying she had lost some weight due to her intensive ballet practice routine.
“I do this four times a week,” Dion said. “People say, ‘She’s a lot thinner,’ but I’m working hard. I like to move, and (weight loss) comes with it.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com