Patrick Dempsey, Amanda Dempsey

AP Photo/Sun Journal, Amber Waterman

Patrick Dempsey is in mourning.

The Grey's Anatomy star's 79-year-old mother, Amanda Dempsey, died Monday surrounded by family. She'd fought multiples recurrences of the disease after first being diagnosed with ovarian cancer 1997.

Before Amanda retired years ago, she worked as a secretary at Buckfield Junior/Senior High School.

In 2008, the actor and his two sisters founded The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in partnership with the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Me., where their mom was treated.

The center provides free cancer support, education and integrative medicine services to people affected by cancer. Since its inception, over $5 million has been raised on behalf of the organization.

"Mom was a humble, beautiful spirit, with great courage who lived life in the present and gave hope to all," Mary Dempsey said in a written statement; she is Patrick's sister and the assistant director of the center.

"The entire Central Maine Medical family mourns the passing of Amanda Dempsey," said Peter Chalke, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare. "Amanda Dempsey was both a great lady and a determined fighter who displayed tremendous courage, class and grace during her long battle with cancer."

Chalke added, "We will miss Amanda deeply, but we were all blessed by knowing her and being inspired by her life story."

The center's executive director, Wendy Tardif, said Amanda died just shy of her 80th birthday in a hospice setting. "I do think people see her as a resilient, feisty, courageous woman who gives people a lot of hope," Tardif told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal. "She's always had a positive attitude."

"She's been an iconic figure. To say she's going to be missed is an understatement," Tardif added. "The Dempsey Challenge will feel a little different this year, more profound." This year's two-day Dempsey Challenge kicks off Sept. 27.

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