Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Ovarian Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Patrick Dempsey: Cancer Caregiver

You may know him as 'Dr. McDreamy,' but the real Patrick Dempsey is a supportive son who has twice helped his mother face down ovarian cancer.


“The five-year survival rate for stage III or IV ovarian cancer can be 10% to 60%, depending on how a woman responds to therapy, her age, and how extensive the disease is,” Chi says. “You can have stage IV and have long-term survival, but the odds aren’t great.” Typically, only about 20% of cases are found early. Survival rates outside this early stage can be as low as 30% in five years. Fortunately for the Dempsey clan, their matriarch, now 72, seems to have beaten those odds.

Ten years later, they’ve only begun to exhale. “There is the anxiety of, if it will come back again, how my mother would feel,” the 41-year-old actor tells WebMD. “She is not the same person that she was, emotionally and physically, before the cancer. And every time it comes back, it’s another emotional setback.”

Patrick Dempsey: Caregiver in Action

Making sense of a sometimes complicated diagnosis, choosing the best medical facility, sorting through reams of information -- much of it frightening -- and determining the best treatment options can be extremely challenging, Dempsey admits.

But it’s all part of being the very best advocate you can be for your loved one, whose energy should be focused on getting well, he says.

“You are in an incredibly vulnerable position [as a caregiver] because you feel beholden to people who you think have all the information,” he says. Although his Grey’s Anatomy alter ego, Dr. Derek Shepherd, often seems infallible, “just because someone is a doctor doesn’t mean they have all the answers. Be relentless, question information, and double check it,” Dempsey urges. “Get a second opinion. Do your research.”

It helped that the actor had someone on the inside to turn to. “My sister works in a hospital and is very well-connected. She gave us information and helped us break it down. There is just so much to take in that it’s overwhelming,” he says. And he offers this bit of advice: “Bring a tape recorder -- because you can’t remember everything.”

Advocating for the best possible treatment in the hospital is not a caretaker’s only job, Dempsey says. “When [a loved one] is going through chemotherapy, it’s very hard for them to stay motivated. But if you are a caretaker you need to get them off the couch and moving.”

Today on WebMD

Ovarian cancer illustration
What are the symptoms?
doctory with x-ray
Get to know the Symptoms.
cancer cell
HPV is the top cause. Find out more.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
Screening Tests for Women
Graphic of ovaries within reproductive system
Ovarian Cancer Marker
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Healthy meal with salmon