Celine Dion has confirmed that her beloved husband, René Angélil, has passed away following a long battle with cancer. The singer shared the sad news in a statement on Facebook that reads, "René Angélil, 73, passed away this morning at his home in Las Vegas after a long and courageous battle against cancer. The family requests that their privacy be respected at the moment; more details will be provided at a later time." René leaves behind the couple’s three children, René-Charles, 14, and five-year-old twins, Nelson and Eddy, as well as his three grown children from two previous marriages, Patrick, Jean Pierre and Anne Marie.
Celine has been by her husband's side as he battled throat cancer for the second time. René was first diagnosed in 1999 but recovered only for the cancer to return in 2014. The singer took an indefinite leave from her residency in Las Vegas to care for her ailing husband, but returned to the stage in August 2015 at the behest of her loving partner.
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"We are heartbroken to hear this news, not only because René was a great friend and mentor and an extraordinary partner with us in these shows at Caesars Palace for the last 13 years, but even more because he and Celine were so devoted to each other; their relationship has been a model for us all," said John Nelson, a vice-president of AEG Live Las Vegas, of his longtime colleague and friend. "René was the most brilliant, generous and loyal partner one could have in business. And after the work was done, René was such a fun and joyful friend who loved to entertain, eat amazing meals, and tell great stories. There will never be another one like René."
Last November, Celine gave fans an update on René's health, stating that, "He's doing well. He's stable." It was clear from the moment that Celine returned to work at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace that the family was taking each day as it came, cherishing their time together. Through it all, Celine faced the future with courage and strength and always put her family first. "You can have shaking knees at the end, but when someone you love falls and needs help, it’s not time to cry. Afterwards, sure. But not yet,” she once said.
The Canadian superstar admitted that although she wanted to be strong for her husband during his difficult fight, it wasn't always what he needed. "Sometimes he just wants me to enter a different place with him," she explained late last year. "I'll say, 'You're scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.' And René says to me, 'I want to die in your arms.' OK, fine, I'll be there, you'll die in my arms."
And as Celine and her family begin to process their tremendous loss, they can find strength in the outpouring of love and well-wishes they have received and will continue to receive from fans around the world. "The support, the prayers, the strength (of fans), the emails, the messages, the letters... It plays a big role in telling him 'One more day, let's do it'. It helps tremendously."