Amgen and actor Patrick Dempsey have been on the same page for nearly 15 years in recognizing that people facing a cancer diagnosis need more than just medical treatments. Counseling, support groups, nutritional guidance and exercise programs are just as important to help patients, caregivers and loved ones navigate the physical and emotional challenges of a cancer journey.
In 2007, Dempsey joined forces with Amgen as an ambassador for the Breakaway from Cancer event, which supported patients like Sharon Bishop (see video), an Amgen staff member who participated in Breakaway from Cancer while working through her own experience with breast cancer.
Inspired by his mother’s struggle with cancer, Dempsey then founded the Dempsey Center to help provide much-needed support and quality-of-life services at no cost for cancer patients, families and caregivers.
"I could see how further support was needed to coincide with the care given to my mother by her doctors. The human touch is so powerful and profound for people during this time along with the caregivers," Dempsey says. "We do not treat the disease, we treat the person and we do it in a holistic way, complementing conventional approaches. We work on the mind, body and soul. Without the ongoing support of Amgen this would not be possible to offer these services without cost."
Amgen Oncology has been a presenting sponsor of the Dempsey Challenge from the first year. Over the past 11 years, the organization’s signature fundraiser grew into a popular community event in Dempsey's hometown of Lewiston, Maine, in which participants would run, walk or bike to raise money so the center could continue supporting patients and their loved ones.
Now, like many events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Dempsey Challenge is going virtual. It’s also expanding to become a global event accessible to anyone around the world who wants to share their own cancer journey or raise money to help others. This year’s virtual challenge is happening over Strava, a fitness-focused social network for runners and cyclists to log miles and compete with friends.
People can log miles and raise money on their own at any time during the month, and the Dempsey Challenge officially takes place on September 26-27, when people from around the world can get active in real time with Dempsey and others to contribute to the goal of logging 1.5 million miles and raising 1.5 million dollars. To get an early start, head to Amgen’s Instagram page on September 2, 11 am PDT, for a live Q&A between Dempsey and Christophe Bourdon, senior vice president and general manager of Amgen U.S. Oncology.
Anyone interested in joining the challenge or making a donation can visit the Dempsey Center website to learn more, sign up for the Dempsey Challenge and create a Strava profile. Then just grab friends or family and get active to start logging miles and raising money.