Patrick Dempsey talks about the cancer care center he opened in his mother’s honor

Patrick Dempsey’s mother, Amanda, passed away in 2014 from ovarian cancer. She was first diagnosed with cancer in 1997. During those seventeen years, his mother’s cancer recurred 12 times. Patrick honored his mother, in part, by opening the Dempsey Center in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine, in 2008. The center offers free care to cancer patients. Patrick spoke about the importance of the center and about his mom last week in New York:

The Grey’s Anatomy alum, 53, spoke at The Atlantic’s People v. Cancer event in New York City on Tuesday (hosted in partnership with SurvivorNet) about the joy he gets from offering free quality of life cancer care at the center, located in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine.

“I’m really grateful to be a part of this, and to see the impact of the center is making within the community and the state of Maine is a beautiful thing,” Dempsey told PEOPLE after the event.

He adds, “It’s an inspiring thing, and working with people who have the intention to improve other people’s lives in an altruistic way — that’s what the meaning of life is about, in my opinion, and we need more of that.”

Patrick got emotional during the Q&A when he was asked a question by a mother who is living with cancer:

During the Q&A after his talk on stage, a mother with cancer asked the actor if he could provide some examples of things his own mother shared with him during her journey so that she could share them with her two sons.

“Stories… Tell them about your life,” Dempsey answered, as he teared up. “Your kids want to know about your journey and your childhood, and you want to clear the table before they go… or not go. I’m very grateful that I had that conversation and that she had it with me, so she was free to go, too.”

[From People]

Lewiston is also the site of the Dempsey Challenge, an annual two-day walk/run/bike benefit for the center, which Patrick participates in.

I’m grateful to people like Patrick and others who are able to provide support, care and assistance for people who are navigating serious illnesses. (I’m also thinking of, off the top of my head, Ryan Murphy and J. K. Rowling, to name recent examples.) I agree with him about needing more people in the world to help others. I also love his bittersweet advice to the mother about telling stories to her children. Regardless of what happens, her children will want to know her stories. That’s so true. There are so many questions that I have now for relatives who have passed away that I wish I had asked them when I had the chance. I also love the story that Patrick tells about a dish that his family makes at the holidays because his mother made it, even though nobody eats it because they don’t like it. I feel like most families have similar stories about a bizarre dish that ends up on the table that very few people eat. My parents are away right now, but I’m going to see my mother in a couple of weeks, and this reminds me that I should ask her to tell me some more stories about her childhood.




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7 Responses to “Patrick Dempsey talks about the cancer care center he opened in his mother’s honor”

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  1. Lynn says:

    I live in Maine and Patrick is pretty beloved here for the work he’s done and continues doing. A dear friend of mine is treated at the Dempsey Center is it provides fantastic support services for people living with cancer. He even made an appearance in the tiny town of Baldwin to support a couple of kids who do a huge bottle and can collection ever year to raise funds (thousands of dollars!) for cancer treatment and research. As you can imagine, it was a very big deal 🙂 . It’s funny, I sort of think he might be a bit of a tool is many aspects, but for this I give him huge props.

    • Snappyfish says:

      I simply adore him. I always have. Since ‘Can’t buy me Love’ . I’ve seen him at a few of the races (motor) he has participated in & he is always the sweetest person to the fans. We need more Patrick’s in this world. What a lovely tribute to a mother from her son.

      • Lynn says:

        And to continue to be actively involved is so great. He could have easily stuck his name on this and moved on but he didn’t. Mainer’s pride themselves on generally not having emotions but he makes us very very proud.

  2. FHMom says:

    This is so awesome. I know Patrick made life difficult on Greys Anatomy, but he deserves tons of respect for this. It’s possible to do both great things and be seriously flawed. I’l also confess that he is so damn attractive.

  3. Angel says:

    That’s fantastic!

    Don’t just hear the stories – record them. That way, you can pass them down or add them to a local library archive for future generations.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That’s a really good idea. I got to hear my mother’s stories throughout my childhood & life; the problem is, I’ve got these stories stored in my own memory but I don’t think my siblings or their kids do so I need to write them down & distribute them. Another thing: I’ve got all the family photo albums & while I spent many a day in my childhood going through those albums with my mom & her telling me the stories related to all the people–which I really enjoyed–I really needed to do that again with her before her cancers (multiple myeloma & a return of breast cancer) took up all our time & energy & thoughts.
      Anyway, I agree with everyone so far–what a great thing he’s doing & so impressed that he’s staying involved.

  4. IMUCU says:

    I sometimes record my family members’ stories (mostly grandparents and great aunts/ uncles at this point), but never considered a local library archive wanting them. Sometimes the quality isn’t that great though bc I’ll just stick my phone in front of them on audio record. It’s nice to have their voice and their story, along with our little interactions during it.