- Amélie Champagne, 22, died this month from suicide after battling Lyme disease, her father said.
- Lyme disease can affect the joints, heart, and nervous system if left untreated.
- Her father shared a message on LinkedIn: “She has decided to free herself from unbearable pain.”
22-year-old Amélie Champagne struggled to explain her physical pain for years before finally being diagnosed with Lyme disease in June 2021.
By then, the tick-borne bacteria had made their way into her brain. On Sunday this September – more than a year after her diagnosis – champagne died of suicide.
Her father Alain, outgoing president of Canadian drugstore chain Jean Coutu Group, recently shared the news in a touching post on LinkedIn.
“It is with the heaviest hearts (and still in shock) that I share the tragic news that our beloved Amélie (22) took her own life last Sunday,” he wrote last week.
According to the post, Alain outlived her along with Joanne’s mother, brother Mathieu and boyfriend Nic.
Lyme disease can cause many physical symptoms, including joint pain, muscle aches, and chronic fatigue. Most cases resolve after a few weeks of antibiotics, but the disease can progress if not treated early.
“Over time and despite recent therapies, the disease has progressed far beyond numerous physical symptoms and is now seriously affecting her brain,” wrote Alain Champagne on LinkedIn.
“Lyme basically kidnapped her”
The Champagne family witnessed how difficult it can be to live with Lyme disease, Amelia’s dad wrote in the post.
Early symptoms can include fever, aches, chills, headache, and fatigue, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The characteristic bullseye rash usually appears about a week after being bitten by an infected tick.
The family went through “years of medical error” in their hometown of Quebec before finally getting an accurate diagnosis for Amélie in the US. During this time, the disease progressed untreated.
The bacteria that cause Lyme disease can penetrate the joints, heart, and nervous system if the disease progresses. Long-term complications include Lyme arthritis, which may require surgery; Lyme heart inflammation, a heart infection that causes fainting and palpitations; and extensive dysfunctions of the nervous system, including severe headaches, tingling and facial paralysis.
“As time went on, Lyme basically kidnapped her [sic]”Father Champagne wrote. “She was so brave during this ordeal … She decided to free herself from unbearable pain.”
Although Amélie’s father did not specify her physical symptoms, he said that despite the pain, she was still resilient and optimistic. She was persistent in her studies and volunteered at a center for disabled children and a nearby homeless shelter.
After Amélie’s death, her family and friends count on their support, Champagne wrote in a post.
“We will love you forever and cherish every memory of our wonderful time together. You made all of us better people. It is now up to us to meet the challenge.