Celebrity News

Celine Dion’s titanic trouble

Celine Dion is stepping back on stage, despite the heartbreak of her husband's ailing health.
Celine Dion

When Celine Dion’s husband René Angélil became gravely ill with cancer last year, the singing star didn’t hesitate to pull the plug on her busy performing schedule so she could devote her time to looking after him. Now she is returning to the stage after a break of almost a year – at René’s request.

“He wants me to sing again, and I want to do this for him,” says the French-Canadian songstress. “René will be in the audience [for opening night]. It is going to be very emotional for me.”

A special area will be set aside next to the stage at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where Celine (45) will be returning in August to the residency show she cancelled last year. René (73) will be able to watch his wife perform from there in comfort and privacy, and he’ll be joined on occasion by the couple’s sons René-Charles (14) and twins Nelson and Eddy (4). René is battling throat cancer for the third time and his prognosis is bleak. Radiation treatment has left him with hearing difficulties and he is barely able to speak.

The couple married in 1994, when Celine was 26.

“He can’t use his mouth,” an emotional Celine tells. “He’s got a feeding tube. I have to feed him three times a day. I’m scared of losing him. But I have to show myself, my husband and my kids that I’m strong and we’re okay.”

Celine will be employing healthcare workers to look after René in their Las Vegas home when she is back working. She sees returning to the stage as “therapy for the whole family”.

Celine cancelled her successful residency and canned a planned tour of Asia when René’s cancer returned last August. Initially diagnosed in 1999, he recovered after treatment, but another tumour was found in 2013. Although surgery to remove it appeared to have been successful, more cancer was detected last year. At the time, Celine issued a statement apologising to her fans and explaining why she had walked away. “I want to devote every ounce of my strength and energy to my husband’s healing,” she said.

Celine with her favourite boys (from left), husband René, René-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy.

The boys know their father is very sick, and Celine has spoken openly to teenager René-Charles about the seriousness of his dad’s illness. “Celine doesn’t want any secrets,” says a friend. “She feels it’s the best way to prepare for life without him.”

The singer has been spending her time out of the limelight not only looking after her husband, but also trying to make their family time special. “Celine keeps spirit and light in their lives,” says the friend. “They play music around the house, they dance. René gets so much joy from seeing the children happy.”

And it’s their three boys who are helping Celine through the tough times. “The kids inspire and help her to go on. She wants love and laughter around René always. René’s activity is obviously curtailed, but he’s not sitting around waiting to die.”

Celine has admitted she’s terrified of losing René, who is the only man she has ever loved. They met when she was 12 and performing at her parents’ piano bar. René, then 38, was a music manager and vowed to make her a star. He mortgaged his home to fund her first record. They began a romantic relationship seven years later and married when Celine was 26 and René was 52. Although they had fertility problems, they were able to have three boys, born via IVF.

The couple, pictured in 1990, met when Celine was only 12 years old.

Given their age gap and René’s poor health, Celine has known for some time that she may have many years alone after he dies. “I think she is prepared for the end,” her friend says.

In the meantime, Celine is trying not to think too much about the future. “We are taking life one day at a time,” she says. “But we are choosing to live.”

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