Amélie Champagne took her own life on 11 September, months after she finally received a diagnosis for her years-long health issues.
Her father Alain Champagne, president of the Canadian drugstore chain Jean Coutu Group, broke the devastating news to his LinkedIn followers last week.
“To my LinkedIn community … while I never do personal posts, I wanted to share this … It is with the heaviest of hearts (and still in shock) that I share the tragic news that our sweetheart Amelie (22) took her own life this past Sunday,” he wrote.
In the moving post, Mr Champagne spoke out about the toll that the tickborne infection had taken on his daughter and how, ultimately, it had “hijacked” her brain.
The LinkedIn message had gained almost 8,000 likes and 1,500 comments of people sharing their condolences as of Saturday morning ET.
Mr Champagne said his family saw how challenging life with Lyme disease could be – with Amélie’s health conditions going undiagnosed for a long time.
“We were witnesses as to how challenging life had become for her in dealing with the evolving Lyme disease symptoms (after years of medical errance and finally getting a positive test in the US this past June, over time and despite the recent treatments, the disease had evolved way beyond the numerous physical symptoms and was now severely impacting her brain),” he said.
“Over time, Lyme essentially highjacked her.”
The grieving father praised how “courageous” Amélie was throughout the ordeal and how “despite the struggles of the past few years” she continued with her studies at university, kept working at a respite centre for children with disabilities and had just started volunteering at a homeless shelter.
He did not reveal the specifics of her symptoms but said that the 22-year-old “remained ever the vibrant/fun-loving friend and member of our family” who touched the lives of everyone she met with her “engaging and empathetic personality”.
“The resilience and continued optimism she displayed while dealing with the ever increasing symptoms was and remains my main source of inspiration,” he said.
But, while Amélie tried to stay optimistic, “she decided to free herself from the unbearable pain”, her father said.
“We are confident she is now in peace and that her spirit is shining bright upon the large number of people she touched over her short stay with us,” he said.
Mr Champagne said that “every day is extremely difficult” and “a long road lies in front” of her loved ones as they come to terms with her death.
But, he said that the family and her boyfriend Nic are “leaning on each other” at this time.
“Despite the fact that every breath and every moment is painful at this stage, in her honour we will try to keep living our lives with the same altitude she lived hers,” he wrote.
“A long road lies in front of us (every day)…We are hopeful the Amelie is now in a position to help guide and support us through it.
“We will love you forever, and cherish every memory of our wonderful time together. You made us all better people. It’s now up to us to rise up to the challenge…”
Amélie leaves behind her mother Joanne, father Alain, brother Mathieu and boyfriend Nic, according to the post.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through bites from an infected tick.
Although it is treatable with antibiotics, a delay in diagnosis can be critical as patients can develop long-term health problems.
Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash, according to the CDC.
If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.