Patrick Dempsey opened the Dempsey Center, which offers the quality of life care to people impacted with cancer, in 2008. He established the center after his mother’s devastating battle with cancer.
Since then, the actor has been helping the community and supporting families affected by cancer like his own.
The 53-year-old spoke about how grateful he is from offering free quality life care at the center, at The Atlantic’s People v. Cancer event in New York City.
He told PEOPLE after the event, “I’m really grateful to be a part of this, and to see the impact of the center is making within the community and the state of Maine is a beautiful thing.”
Dempsey is best known for his role as neurosurgeon Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy.
He added, “It’s an inspiring thing, and working with people who have the intention to improve other people’s lives in an altruistic way — that’s what the meaning of life is about, in my opinion, and we need more of that.”
Dempsey’s mother, Amanda, passed away in 2014 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
The Made of Honor actor said, “When there is a cancer diagnosis in the family, it’s devastating and you’re never the same after that — you’re changed in a profound way. But through her experience, we’ve created the Dempsey Center in her memory, and hopefully we’re improving people’s lives. Sometimes in the darker side of life, there comes a light side as well.” He explained that exercise helps one feel better. “You feel better if you exercise — you’re healthier and certainly going into getting treatment. So, the stronger person is the better the outcome,” he told PEOPLE.