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Journey of a legend: Céline Dion’s emotional story unveiled in new documentary

Jun 26, 2024, 8:21 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm

The new documentary “I Am: Céline Dion” is now streaming on Prime Video, taking fans inside the life of the Canadian superstar like never before.

Directed by filmmaker Irene Taylor, the documentary features Dion opening up about her diagnosis of stiff-person syndrome, a rare autoimmune neurological disorder that has kept her off the stage for several years, and how it has impacted her life.

Amanda Piquet, MD, associate professor of neurology and director of the autoimmune neurology program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and her team are working tirelessly with Dion to overcome this rare, chronic and progressive autoimmune neurologic disease, which currently has no cure. SPS is characterized by muscle stiffness, painful spasms and difficulty walking.

Piquet, whose team is conducting groundbreaking research on autoimmune neurologic disorders, has treated the Canadian singer’s SPS for two years at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. She is the inaugural Céline Dion Foundation Endowed Chair in Autoimmune Neurology, made possible by a $2 million philanthropic investment from the Céline Dion Foundation.

Piquet said the foundation’s gift represents a turning point in the understanding of SPS and other autoimmune neurologic diseases.

Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

Here are some of the takeaways from the documentary:

–Celine reveals she first began to experience “vocal spasming” 17 years ago, saying “that’s the way it started” and that “it freaked me out a little bit.” She added she was scared when her voice wasn’t acting the way it should. She details the extent of the pain she was experiencing, saying, “I got to a point that I couldn’t walk anymore.”

–During that time, Céline says, she canceled shows and lied about the reason. Other times, “I would point my microphone towards the audience, and I would make them sing it. There’s moments where I cheated, and I tapped on the microphone like it was the microphone’s fault.”

–Céline says at one point she was taking “80 to 90 milligrams of Valium a day,” noting, “I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I could’ve died … I was taking those medicines because I needed to walk. I needed to be able to swallow. I needed medicine to function.”

–In one of the most harrowing moments in the film, Céline is seen having a seizure while being examined by her sports medicine therapist. She later reflects on the incident, saying, “Every time something like this happens, it makes you feel so embarrassed.”

At the end of the documentary, a hopeful Céline notes, “I always find plan B and C, you know? That’s me. If I can’t run, I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl. But I won’t stop.”

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Journey of a legend: Céline Dion’s emotional story unveiled in new documentary