Medically Assisted Death: The Suffering of a Canadian Lyme Patient Ends

Photo of Lone Dandelion SeedGlobal News, Kalina Laframboise, (6.01.2024) published, “Woman with ‘unmanageable’ pain from Lyme disease chooses to die. She wasn’t always believed.” Stéphanie Lavoie, a 30-year-old woman from Drummondville, Quebec, struggled with Lyme disease for years before requesting medical assistance in dying on May 17, 2024. She chose doctor-assisted death because she was in intractable pain, spending most of her adult life fighting the escalating symptoms of Lyme disease that left her bedridden and unable to eat.

Stéphanie had a tick bite in Quebec’s Saguenay region eight years prior when the illness began. She wasn’t unable to acquire a diagnosis nor access to treatment in Canada because her condition didn’t meet all of the required markers. According to her sister, Cathy Lavoie, a Lyme disease diagnosis was confirmed for Stéphanie’s case in the United States, Mexico, and Germany.

The illness escalated with aches in her feet moving to her knees and other joints to the point of needing a wheelchair. The intolerable pain eventually confined her to her bed for the last two years of her life. Her condition worsened last August until she could no longer tolerate or ingest food and her weight dropped dangerously low. According to her family, requests for at-home medical care for intravenous nutrition was denied by the medical system. Stéphanie was dismissed by medical professionals as her health spiraled out of control. As excruciating pain escalated, medical assistance in dying was a last resort decision. Stéphanie weighed only 59 pounds at her time of death. 

Stéphanie’s sister described her as “a fighter.” She stated, “When one door was shutting, she knocked another one and tried something else.” Stéphanie recorded a message for a journalist shortly before she died. “Is it ethical to let someone die because they do not fit into one of the famous checkboxes?…After eight years of fighting, of being strong with fantastic people around me, I am at peace with laying down my arms.” 

When Christian Dubé, Quebec Health Minister, was asked about a lack of resources for Lyme disease patients, he responded…“We’ve put 15 clinics in the last few years to ensure we have those diseases being treated.”

Stéphanie’s final recorded message encouraged anyone suffering from Lyme disease or other illnesses that are not widely recognized to keep fighting. She stated, “I wish you good luck, have courage and don’t give up. Continue to believe in yourselves.” Stephanie’s family is now calling for a change in how the Quebec medical system manages Lyme disease. 

For More Information:

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