Amanda Dempsey, mother of actor Patrick Dempsey, passed away Monday evening from ovarian cancer. She was 79. 

Ms. Dempsey's passing is particularly notable, not because of her famous son, but because of how her courageous battle with ovarian cancer not only inspired thousands around her — but also helped create a new center for healing. 

Back in 2007, Patrick Dempsey approached the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with an idea of creating a local cancer support organization. The "Grey's Anatomy" star witnessed first-hand his mother's difficulties in fighting the disease and wanted to help other families going through the same thing. In 2008, the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing was founded by Amanda’s children, Patrick, Mary and Alicia, in honor of Amanda, and in partnership with CMMC.

"For a family to get a cancer diagnosis is devastating, and all the information out there can be overwhelming," Dempsey said in 2011. "A lot of the websites I went to just didn't have enough information. So I talked to my sister about a place where people could go for all this type of information and help. Knowledge is power."

The center, which provides free cancer support, education, and integrative medicine services to anyone impacted by cancer, had over 16,000 service contacts in person or by phone during 2013. In addition, the annual Dempsey Challenge Bike Race has also raised more than $5 million to support the center and its outreach. 

“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,” said Dempsey Center Executive Director Wendy Tardif in a statement. “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.”

You can watch Patrick Dempsey and his family talk about their decision to form the medical center below.

Related on MNN:

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Patrick Dempsey's mother passes away from cancer
Amanda Dempsey's courageous battle with the disease was the inspiration behind the creation of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing.