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René Angélil and Céline Dion | Source: Getty Images
René Angélil and Céline Dion | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion: Husband's Cancer, Life after His Death, and Her Health Struggles – Details

Wian Prinsloo
Jul 05, 2024
11:31 A.M.

Throughout her life, pop icon Céline Dion has impressed and inspired countless fans across the globe with her music. More recently, the singer has opened up about her struggles and what it took to get where she is today. Read on for details about her marriage, the loss of her husband, and how she faces terminal illness without her better half.

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Céline Dion, the 56-year-old pop sensation, was born on March 30, 1968. She quickly became known for her powerful and emotive singing voice, which has made her one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Céline Dion on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Céline Dion on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Céline gained international fame in the 1990s with hits like "The Power of Love," "Because You Loved Me," and the iconic "My Heart Will Go On," but she has also admitted that her career wouldn't be what it is today without the help of one person who was very dear to her heart.

Meeting the Man Who Would Make Céline Famous

Celine Dion's relationship with her late husband and manager, René Angélil, is one of the most talked-about love stories in the entertainment world.

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Celine Dion, 1988 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion, 1988 | Source: Getty Images

The pop vocalist first met René when she was still very young. "I started to know René when I was 12 years old," Céline shared. "Not in a relation to that level, but with as much respect and love." At that time, Rene was instrumental in transforming Céline from an unknown French-Canadian beauty with a strong voice into one of the most celebrated artists of all time.

Céline Dion, René Angelil, 1988 | Source: Getty Images

Céline Dion, René Angelil, 1988 | Source: Getty Images

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Céline admits that she never wrote her songs or knew how to read music or play an instrument, which made René's role in her career even more crucial. "I never wrote my songs. I didn't even know how to read music or play an instrument," she says. But, "I had a great manager who surrounded me with the best people." René's guidance and belief in Céline's talent were pivotal to her rise in the music industry.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil In Los Angeles, United States In March 1990 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil In Los Angeles, United States In March 1990 | Source: Getty Images

It was a few years after they began working together that Céline, then a teenager, started a romantic relationship with René. "We kind of kept it cool because of my career," says Céline of wanting to dodge scrutiny over their 26-year age difference. "I was living that love secretly."

The couple's relationship faced public scrutiny due to their age difference, but Céline and René remained steadfast. "When I was at the age to be able to say to people," she says, "It was like bang! love! Love always wins." This declaration marked a significant moment in their relationship, showcasing their commitment and the strength of their bond.

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René Angelil and Céline Dion, December 1994 | Source: Getty Images

René Angelil and Céline Dion, December 1994 | Source: Getty Images

Céline's love story with René is not just about romance but also about mutual respect and support. It highlights how their partnership, both personal and professional, shaped Céline's life and career, making her one of the most beloved artists in the world.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil, 1994 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil, 1994 | Source: Getty Images

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Over the years, the two worked closely together, slowly working toward making Céline's voice one of the most recognizable in the world. Later on, their professional relationship would help them grow even closer and they finally tied the knot in 1994. The pair went on to welcome a small brood of little ones.

Welcoming Children

In 2001, Céline and her manager-turned-husband welcomed their first child, a boy named René-Charles Angélil. Céline was over the moon when the boy was born, of course, and has spoken about her love for her kids on numerous occasions over the years.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil on February 21, 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil on February 21, 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa | Source: Getty Images

Opening up about her son, the singer often shared heartfelt reflections on his life and their bond. She refers to him as her "miracle child" and fondly recalls breastfeeding him for a year. Céline admires his intelligence and natural talent with numbers, traits he inherited from his late father.

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Celine Dion, Nelson Angelil, Rene Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Rene-Charles Angelil, February 16, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion, Nelson Angelil, Rene Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Rene-Charles Angelil, February 16, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

Her deep connection with René-Charles is evident as she emphasizes that her primary role is being a mother. "My life is to be a mom," she says, highlighting how she prioritizes his needs above her career. Céline's focus is on instilling her values in him, ensuring he grows up happy and responsible.

She takes pride in watching René-Charles develop his own identity, all while maintaining a strong bond with her. Céline's commitment to motherhood shines through in her dedication to supporting and guiding her son through life's challenges. She values the lessons she teaches him, aiming to shape a well-rounded and thoughtful individual.

Celine Dion, Nelson Angelil, Rene Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Rene-Charles Angelil, February 16, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion, Nelson Angelil, Rene Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Rene-Charles Angelil, February 16, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

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Céline's reflections also reveal a deep sense of gratitude for the time she has spent with René-Charles. She cherishes the everyday moments and milestones, appreciating the joy and fulfillment motherhood brings. Her love for her son is profound, serving as a central aspect of her life. She spoke about how she views her role as a mother:

You know, I'm not really a singer. My life is to be a mom. It is what I enjoy the most. It is my most amazing reward. I will take a chance with my music. I don’t take risks with my family. He's my priority. We organize our schedule according to his needs.

Celine Dion and Rene-Charles Angelil in Disneyland, March 21, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene-Charles Angelil in Disneyland, March 21, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

On October 23, 2010, Céline and René's family grew by two when they welcomed a pair of fraternal twin boys. Initially, the parents didn't speak to the crowds awaiting news themselves, but rather sent the doctor, Ronald Ackerman, to address the press.

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The twins were delivered via C-section at a Florida hospital. One baby weighed 5 lbs., 4 oz., and the other 5 lbs., 10 oz. Though healthy, they were placed in an incubator due to their premature birth. Dion's firstborn, René-Charles, was excited to meet his new brothers. At the time, Dion's rep mentioned that the family planned to decide on the boys' names after Dion had rested.

Rene-Charles Angelil and Céline Dion on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Rene-Charles Angelil and Céline Dion on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Eventually, after recovering her strength and presumably spending time with her family, the pop star and her husband finally announced that they had settled on names for the boys. They were named Nelson and Eddy Angélil.

Losing René

Despite the happiness that family life offered Céline and her husband, there were still a slew of challenges that tested them over the years. One of the biggest things the singer and her beloved husband had to fight through was René's cancer diagnosis.

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Around the year 2000, René was first diagnosed with throat cancer. Together, the couple managed to fight the illness, but to their dismay, it returned in 2013. The singer was about to appear on national television when the news came.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on November 22, 2012 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on November 22, 2012 | Source: Getty Images

"I went back in my dressing room and I saw him looking pretty devastated, in shock, and I was like, 'What's going on,'" Céline shared. "He said, 'I have cancer again. The doctor just called me and I have cancer again.' At that moment, honestly, my heart started to beat faster but my body shut off."

In an interview, Céline shared that her husband, 73 at the time, had to be fed through a feeding tube due to his condition. "He can't eat so I feed him," Céline shared. "He's got a feeding tube. I have to feed him three times a day."

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Celine Dion and Rene Angelil at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France on May 22nd, 2008 | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France on May 22nd, 2008 | Source: Getty Images

The pop star tried to involve her children in caring for René by encouraging them to help with feeding and providing emotional support. "You want to come and help me feed papa today? You want to help me out? Want to hold the water? You are a good feeder," Céline often said to her children, fostering a supportive family environment. René eventually had to step down as his wife's manager due to his health.

Despite his family's unwavering support and love, René tragically passed away at the age of 73 after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. René died at their home in Las Vegas, surrounded by his family. Despite his health struggles, René still encouraged Céline's career.

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil, June 4, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil, June 4, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

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The singer said lovingly after his passing, "He's been there for me all my life, and I've been there for him all my life. There's a part of me that never really left the stage. I wanted to be there but I needed to be someplace else which was much more important at that time. To be by his side. To be by my family"

Life after Losing Rene

Céline faced the devastating loss of her husband, René, with a lot of grace. In a heartfelt interview, Céline shared how her husband had prepared her for life without him, both emotionally and practically. Despite his illness, René continued to support and guide his loving wife, even writing notes and giving instructions to help her manage after his passing.

Céline Dion, René-Charles Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Nelson Angelil at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec, January 22, 2016 | Source: Getty Images

Céline Dion, René-Charles Angelil, Eddy Angelil, and Nelson Angelil at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec, January 22, 2016 | Source: Getty Images

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Céline spoke about how her husband's death, although expected, still came as a shock. She described the profound pain of seeing him suffer and the emotional difficulty of losing him. René's last days were spent at their home in Las Vegas, where Dion comforted him, telling him not to worry about her or their children. Céline described what life is like without him by her side, saying, "It's like I don't live with him physically but I live with him inside of me."

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The couple's three sons, René-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy, are adjusting to life without their father. Céline involves her children in remembering René, encouraging them to express their love and memories. Every night, they kiss their father goodnight in a touching family ritual.

Celine Dion at Notre-Dame Basilica on January 22, 2016 in Montreal, Canada | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion at Notre-Dame Basilica on January 22, 2016 in Montreal, Canada | Source: Getty Images

Despite her immense loss, Céline continues to perform, fulfilling René's wishes. She draws strength from his memory and the lessons he imparted. Céline's resilience and dedication to her family and career reflect the profound impact her husband had on her life. As she returned to the stage, Céline embodied the mantra that her husband instilled in her: "The show must go on."

Fighting Another Illness

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Despite her tenacious personality, the pop icon still had to face adversity after the death of her husband. Céline has been battling stiff-person syndrome (SPS), a rare and incurable neurological disorder, since her diagnosis in 2022.

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The disease causes severe muscle spasms and affects her ability to walk and use her vocal cords. Eventually, the culminating symptoms led to the cancellation of her Courage World Tour in May 2023.

Celine Dion on December 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

Celine Dion on December 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source: Getty Images

She has been vocal about her condition, sharing her experiences and educating people along the way. She also had to explain the situation to her children. She shared:

"I barely could walk at one point, and I was missing very much living. My kids started to notice. I was like, 'OK, they already lost a parent. I don't want them to be scared. I let them know, 'You lost your dad, [but] mom has a condition and it's different. I'm not going to die. It's something that I'm going to learn to live with.'"

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She also had to teach her children how to react when they saw her having a really bad attack that would leave her unable to speak. She had to teach her children to be brave in these cases. She assured them that she isn't dying, but she does need their help to call for medical assistance.

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Despite the challenges, Céline remains determined to stay strong for her three children and continue doing what she loves. She noted, "I was trying to, what, survive through this. I was trying to be brave. Because, all my life, I wanted to be the best of me."

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Céline has opened up about the effects that her condition has had on her singing career, saying, "With the weeks and the months and the years, things started to get more, more often — every day, worse. The body started to get rigid, not flexible, more spasm, more cramping."

Along with these worsening symptoms came another unthinkable repercussion. Céline started to struggle to sing. Her vocal cords just couldn't keep up, and she had to start devising strategies that would allow her to keep performing. Eventually, her team started to lower the key of a few songs so she could perform in comfort.

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Céline also invited fans to sing along with her by giving them the microphone for a few seconds, although this isn't merely to alleviate some of the stress on her voice. The singer commented:

"When I present the microphone, it's because they're part of me. I was 12 years old when I met them. I probably miss them more than singing itself. People need to know that I'm alive… I want to go back on stage. I need to know if I can. They need to know that I love them, and I miss them."

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She's finding ways to live with her condition, but she's also making it clear that it is having adverse effects on her life. "It's like somebody is strangling you. It's like somebody is pushing your larynx, pharynx this way," the singer lamented.

Céline Dion at Alice Tully Hall on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Céline Dion at Alice Tully Hall on June 17, 2024 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

With all the fans wondering what's next for Céline, she has decided to share her life story in the film "I Am: Céline Dion." Besides this, the singer has also been very open about her plans for the future. And it seems Céline is happy with the way her life is going, assuring people that she's not looking to date. Still, the possibility is not off the table. "I keep my soul and my heart open," the singer commented.

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The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on AmoMama.com, or available through AmoMama.com is for general information purposes only. AmoMama.com does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.

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