Mediaplanet: What inspired you to become an active voice for cancer awareness? 

Patrick Dempsey: My mother’s multiple bouts with ovarian cancer and my experience of dealing with my mother's illness while living in California led to the creation of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. In 2007, my family approached Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with the idea of creating a local cancer support organization. My mother had received cancer treatment at CMMC and we wished to not only help other families impacted by cancer, but also give back to our local community in Maine. The Dempsey Center was founded in 2008 in honor of my mother, and in partnership with CMMC. The center provides free support, education and integrative medicine services to anyone impacted by cancer.

MP: How has your personal experience with a cancer diagnosis of someone close to you affected your work-life balance? 

ALL SMILES: Partrick spending quality time with his mother Amanda Dempsey at the Annual Dempsey Challenge.
Photo: The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing

PD: After my mom was diagnosed with cancer, it was important for me to figure out, despite the challenges, how to be with my mother in Maine while living and working in California. It wasn't always easy to manage my job, my day-to-day life and caring for my mom, but it was important.

MP:  What advice would you give to families who are facing similar diagnoses?

PD: Find support services to help your loved ones but also yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for support from your community and do everything you can to spend time with your loved ones.

MP: What is the hardest lesson you've learned throughout your mother's battle with cancer?  

PD: Life is short no matter how old you are. Live life to the fullest, spending time with family is very important. Talk about everything while you can.

MP:  What was the inspiration behind creating a cycling event to raise funds for cancer support services?

PD: I knew I wanted to create a fun and unique fundraising event that reflected our core values and was also a healthy way to get outdoors in the fall in Maine. These events have become an amazing way for supporters and survivors to achieve their goals alongside their friends and loved ones. I'm proud to say the funds raised ensure that all the services of the Dempsey Center are free for anyone impacted by cancer.

MP:  In what ways can people get involved in the future with the Dempsey Center?

PD: Come to the Challenge in September and run, walk, cycle or volunteer.