Amanda Dempsey, mother of actor Patrick Dempsey who created Lewiston’s Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, has died at age 79 of ovarian cancer, according to a statement Tuesday on the center’s website.
“The entire Central Maine Medical family mourns the passing of Amanda Dempsey,” said Peter Chalke, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare. “Amanda Dempsey was both a great lady and a determined fighter who displayed tremendous courage, class and grace during her long battle with cancer.”
A western Maine native, Patrick Dempsey is perhaps best known nationally for playing neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy.” He and his sisters, Mary and Alicia, founded the center six years ago in partnership with Central Maine Medical Center, following his experience of dealing with his mother’s illness while living in California.
Amanda Dempsey had received cancer treatment at Central Maine Medical Center, and the family wished to not only help other families affected by cancer, but also give back to their local community.
The center provides free cancer support, education and integrative medicine services to anyone impacted by cancer, regardless of where treatment is received, and had more than 16,000 service contacts in person or by phone during 2013, according to the website.
“Amanda’s passing has only made us more resolute in our mission, and we will continue to expand and grow our services and share her legacy with the world,” Dempsey Center Executive Director Wendy Tardif said in Tuesday’s press release. “The Dempsey Center’s Healing Garden will be named in Amanda’s Honor, and though physically she is no longer with us, we know she will continue to be a source of quiet strength and unwavering perseverance at the Dempsey Center and Dempsey Challenge. Our hearts are heavy, but they are also full as we realize the thousands of lives Amanda touched.”
Amanda Dempsey often volunteered at the center, sewing handmade comfort items to be given to cancer patients, keeping an eye on the quality control of the items or tidying up the storage closet, according to the release. She often brought in apples she picked from her own apple trees, or homemade jam, and even sewed individualized door hangings for staff members’ offices when the Center moved to its new location in 2012. In a way, Amanda was like a mother to all who walked through the doors of the Dempsey Center, whether they even knew it or not.