Patrick Dempsey's Mother Dies of Cancer

03/25/2014 at 04:15 PM EDT

Patrick Dempsey's Mother Dies of Cancer
Patrick and Amanda Dempsey
Courtesy The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing
After a long battle with ovarian cancer, Patrick Dempsey's mother, Amanda, died Monday surrounded by family. She was 79 and had fought multiples occurrences of the disease since 1997.

Inspired by his mom, the Grey's Anatomy star and sisters Mary and Alicia partnered with Central Maine Medical Center – where Amanda had been treated – to found The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in their native Lewiston.

"For a family to get a cancer diagnosis is devastating, and all the information out there can be overwhelming," Dempsey, 48, told reporters at the center's opening that spring. "I talked to my sister[s] about a place where people could go for all this type of information and help. Knowledge is power."

Celebrating its sixth anniversary this year, the Dempsey Center "provides free cancer support, education and integrative medicine services to anyone impacted by cancer, regardless of where treatment is received," a statement posted on the official website reads. Since its inception, over $5 million has been raised to support the Center and its goals.

"The entire Central Maine Medical family mourns the passing of Amanda Dempsey," Peter Chalke, President and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare, said in a press release.

"Amanda Dempsey was both a great lady and a determined fighter who displayed tremendous courage, class and grace during her long battle with cancer ... We will miss Amanda deeply, but we were all blessed by knowing her and being inspired by her life story.”

With reporting by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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