Florida man with stiff-person syndrome says Celine Dion diagnosis brings much-needed awareness

A Palm Coast resident who has battled stiff-person syndrome since he was diagnosed 21 years ago said the recent publicity surrounding the disease could bring big changes to treatment.

This week, singer Celine Dion shared her battle with Stiff-person syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. 

"There’s a sudden buzz. You know everyone’s talking about it," said Mike West. 

West is the director of the Stiff-person Syndrome Association, a Facebook support group that connects 1,700 people from 14 countries. 

West said since Dion announced her diagnosis, 42 people have joined his group.

"It does hit home. There are more people than what you think with the disease and it’s just a matter of raising awareness when you have the opportunity," he said.

West shared his biggest tool for coping with the disease.

"It all comes from what I refer to as mindset," he said.

For him, that means enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

"Putting on your favorite pair of jeans or cooking your favorite food, for me it’s hanging out with my grandkids as much as I can," he said.

West hopes Dion’s diagnosis brings breakthroughs in research and awareness among medical professionals to help treat and diagnose patients.