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Celine Dion 'praying for a miracle' amid Stiff Person Syndrome battle, sister says: exclusive

The 'My Heart Will Go On' singer's sister Claudette Dion spoke with HELLO! to share a hopeful update about her health

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Michael Killingsworth
Michael KillingsworthContributing Editor, HELLO! CanadaToronto
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Celine Dion promised to "work hard" to regain her strength after revealing her diagnosis with Stiff Person Syndrome in December 2022. Today, her sister Claudette is assuring fans that she couldn't have been more true to her word.

"She's doing everything to recover," Claudette, 74, tells HELLO! Canada. "She's a strong woman."

Claudette, a recording star in her own right, graciously took the time to speak to HELLO! Canada to share a hopeful update about her superstar sibling – and goddaughter – and offer insight into the Grammy winner's battle with the rare and debilitating condition.

Celine Dion is the cover star of the 11 September 2023 issue of HELLO! Canada
"I know her spirits are up because we hear it in her voice," Celine Dion's sister Claudette tells HELLO! exclusively

"It's an illness we know so little about," admits Claudette, candidly reflecting on symptoms linked to the syndrome. "There are spasms – they're impossible to control. You know who people often jump up in the night because of a cramp in the leg or the calf? It's a bit like that, but in all muscles," she says, dismayed. "There's little we can do to support her, to alleviate her pain."

Celine, 55, first broke news of her diagnosis in an emotional video on social media, telling fans that she was experiencing spasms affecting "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."

Since then, the mother of three boys (René-Charles, 22, and twins Nelson and Eddy, 12) has cancelled plans for concerts – putting her Courage world tour on hold "until I'm really ready to be back on stage again" – and has been out of the public eye. Based in Las Vegas, she's been relying on "a great team of doctors" and a sports-medicine therapist to build back her strength.

Of course, the "Because You Loved Me" singer – youngest of the 14 Dion children – has also been buoyed by the love of her family, including sister Linda, and her husband, fellow Las Vegas residents. "It's comforting for us all [to have them near Celine]," says Claudette, whose own life as a performer (as well as CEO and spokesperson for La Fondation Maman Dion, an organization founded by her mom that supports disadvantaged youth, and spokesperson for palliative-care centre Maison Adhémar-Dion, named after her late dad) keeps her close to home in Quebec. Though, even across the miles, her bond with Celine has always been special, with a shared interest in music, motherhood and more.

Celine Dion and her brothers and sisters perform onstage together at a Quebec City concert.© Robert Wagenhoffer/Canadian Press
Celine Dion sings a few numbers with her brothers and sisters at Quebec City concert.

Ultimately, says Claudette, "we're crossing our fingers that researchers will find a remedy for this awful illness." And she knows fans feel the same way, too.

Celine Dion, her sons and her extended family.© Dion Family Facebook

"They love Celine," she says proudly, "not only for the voice she has, but also for the human being she is. For the woman she has become, for the mother she has become.

Celine Dion, her boys, and their dogs in happier times.© Celine Dion Instagram
Celine Dion, her boys, and their dogs in happier times.

"We love her for the person she is."

RELATED: Inside Celine's marriage, love story with late husband Rene

RELATED: How Celine's sons are supporting her during crisis

Pick up this week's issue of HELLO! Canada magazine  – on newsstands and Apple News + to learn more about Celine's health journey, her bond with sister Claudette and life inside the Dion family.

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