LEWISTON — Amanda Dempsey probably wouldn’t have liked the fuss, but she would have loved the results.

Two dozen family members, friends, volunteers and supporters of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing gathered at the center Saturday afternoon to dedicate two rooms in her memory.

The first, a quiet, comfortable space filled with soft furniture and artwork, is now called Amanda’s Room. The second, a sunroom filled with plants and flowers, furnished with rocking chairs and bearing a view of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, is now Amanda’s Garden.

“I went in to just sort of prepare myself and try to navigate my emotions,” her son, Patrick Dempsey, told the crowd. “I sat in the garden and was like, this is great to be here, because she didn’t really like talking to begin with. And I think there’s some real value in silence, and if you just sit down and be still for a moment and meditate, the answers will come.”

A successful actor with a popular TV show, it’s Patrick’s name that graces the six-year-old center at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, but it was his mother who served as its inspiration.

Amanda battled ovarian cancer for 17 years. She died in March at age 79.

Advertisement

The center provides free support to cancer patients and their families, including counseling, complementary therapies, support groups and education. Amanda’s three children are involved in the center and she often spent time there, talking with the families affected by cancer and helping behind the scenes.

Amanda’s oldest daughter, Alicia Hatten, said the past six months have been profoundly difficult for the Dempsey family, but Saturday’s gathering and dedication helped.

“All of this takes the edge off of that,” she said.

This weekend marks the first Dempsey Challenge, the center’s biggest fundraiser, since Amanda’s death.

“This is a little bit of an emotional weekend,” Peter Chalke, CEO of Central Maine Healthcare, said during the dedication. “I’m sure everyone at one time has thought of Amanda Dempsey. I know I did several times, and I’m sure I’m not alone.”

He called her “a remarkable human being,” a woman known as a quietly determined fighter who didn’t like the spotlight when it found her.

Advertisement

“At the (Challenge’s) closing ceremonies every year, Patrick would try to get his mom to the mike and she’d never take it. And last year, she took it,” Chalke said. “We’re standing on the stage, no one could breathe. We’re all waiting for three paragraphs of inspiration, a wonderful message. She gets up there and very strongly says, ‘Thank you. Drive safely.'”

Although Amanda probably would have been a little embarrassed by the attention Saturday, her family agreed she would have appreciated the spaces that now bear her name.

“I think that’s what’s so beautiful about going into that garden and just sitting down and being quiet and looking at the vista . . . The essence (of the room) is what made Mom so special: her ability to be quiet, to be in nature. Her actions spoke volumes and I think that’s what that’s about,” Patrick said. “And it’s a tremendous honor for us as a family to be part of that.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: