(Photo: Steve Marcus / USA TODAY)

Rehearsals / Taping of a series of interviews

On Sunday, August 23, 2015, in the afternoon, Celine Dion taped a series of interviews, for "Entertainment Tonight" and "USA Today" in the USA, "Good Morning Britain" on the television network ITV, and "50 MN INSIDE" on the French channel TF1.

LAS VEGAS — In so many ways, Celine Dion is not like you and me.

She's been famous since she was a teenager. She's ascended into that one-name moniker realm of Madonna and Elvis. She's sold 220 million albums and has amassed an estimated $630 million net worth, according to research firm Wealth-X.

And yet in one profound and inescapable way, she's as human as the rest of us.

As her husband and former manager, René Angélil, 73, battles a recurrence of throat cancer, Dion, 47, faces a prospect familiar to all those losing a loved one — how to pick up the pieces and forge ahead.

"Last year has been very tough," Dion tells USA TODAY a few days before the Thursday night opening of her revamped Las Vegas show, Celine. "You get to hear my story and my husband's story because we're on TV. But people go through these things, even worse, every day."

In a candid conversation, Dion expresses her thanks to fans ("The prayers, the support, the e-mails, the letters, it plays a big role"), her love of performing ("This is going to help René 100% and me 100%, I'm doing it for him") and the restorative love of her children ("I always say to René, 'When you go, you don't go, I see you through them every day' ").

After undergoing treatments in Boston, Angélil recently moved back to the family's compound in Las Vegas, which has served as home base during Dion's record-setting residencies at the Caesars Palace Colosseum.

This new run, which tweaks Dion's existing show, has the Canadian singer performing into 2016.

The show's opening montage features contest winners singing along to I Drove All Night. She will revive her duets with holograms, this time featuring a few Las Vegas legends. And she will introduce an Unplugged-style performance of A New Day Has Come and a few other songs with just a few musicians sitting on stools near the front row.

Initially, Dion had reservations about singing more uptempo numbers, such as River Deep Mountain High.

"When I decided to stop the show (a year ago) because René wasn't feeling well, it was because here I was shaking my butt every night, singing 'Everybody dance now,' and I wasn't feeling good about that. … But he wants me there." She laughs. "He doesn't fit into my dress, but believe me, René is with me on that stage."

Returning to Vegas has revived Dion's routine of mixing the demands of show business with the responsibilities of a wife and mother.

This time around, however, Dion appears to be at least trying to simplify as she prepares for life without her longtime significant other. The couple has put a palatial $63 million estate in Palm Beach up for sale, Dion's equivalent of downsizing. "My feeling is if you don't use it, you lose it," she says of the five-acre estate whose price was reduced by $10 million last year.

At home here in the desert, Dion's days include providing sustenance for Angélil, who is on a feeding tube, with the assistance of her 4-year-old twins, Nelson and Eddy. The couple's eldest, René-Charles, has had a more difficult time with Angélil's decline.

"Sometimes he wants me to go with him into René's room — it's just hard for him to see his father like that," Dion says. "He's 14 and a half, but he's becoming the man of my life, even though that's a difficult responsibility to put on any child."
Celine Dion in rehearsal for her returning show in Las Vegas.

To keep René-Charles upbeat, she encourages his passions for golf and hockey, both of which he plays daily when not being homeschooled. While she doesn't yet let him go on sleepovers ("I'd really have to know the parents well first"), she encourages his friends to crash at their place.

"When I see my house with these kids sprawled out on mattresses, with their stinky hockey smell and the dryers drying their equipment, the video games going, the open bags of chips, it makes me happy," she says.

Dion pauses. "René has been my security, my dream-maker. He always wanted me to have everything I ever wanted, even the things I didn't know I wanted. But the children, that was the biggest thing."

She is certain that when Angélil's time does come, she will have her dark moments. But overriding that desire is a personal philosophy that chooses the light.

"It's important to open your eyes in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and ask two questions: Are you dead, or do you have a ticket to ride?" she says.

"There are just two tickets. If you're alive, have a good day. Because today is the most important day of your life."