Gary Sinise Pens Heart-Wrenching Tribute to Son, 33, Who Has Died of Rare Cancer

Gary Sinise Foundation
Gary Sinise Foundation
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Actor Gary Sinise revealed Tuesday that his 33-year-old son died last month after a five-and-a-half year battle with chordoma—a “one in a million” bone cancer that slowly took away his son’s mobility and eventually his life.

Sinise revealed his son’s death in a heart-wrenching tribute posted to his foundation’s website, where he shared that McCanna Anthony “Mac” Sinise fought and produced music until nearly his final breath.

“I am so blessed, fortunate, and proud to be his dad,” wrote Sinise.

Gary Sinese hugs his son, Mac, in a music studio.

Gary Sinese hugs his son, Mac, in a music studio.

Gary Sinise Foundation

Sinise had kept his son’s cancer battle largely under wraps, first revealing his diagnosis in an interview on Dec. 29, just a week before Mac succumbed to his disease in a hospital bed, surrounded by family.

Now the Forrest Gump and Apollo 13 actor has pulled the curtain back on his family’s struggles of the last six years. Those hard times began in the summer of 2017, when his wife, Moira, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Months later, he learned Mac was diagnosed with chordoma—a type of cancer that effects an average of just 300 Americans annually.

“What was happening? What is Chordoma? I had never heard of this,” Sinise recalled. “And two cancer patients, mother and son, within two months of each other? A real punch in the gut.”

Sinise wrote that his son’s spirit never dampened despite his situation, uplifted by his passion for music, his faith, his family, and his job working at his dad’s foundation, which focusses on providing support to U.S. veterans. Sinise said his son worked until his disease made it physically impossible.

Chordoma has no cure, but treatment was able to briefly rid Mac of the disease in 2018 before it appeared again in 2019—this time having spread, Sinise said.

What followed was a flurry of spinal surgeries and visits to the few chordoma specialists that exist in the U.S., Sinise said. While this occurred, the actor said his son rekindled his passion for music, which he studied at the University of Southern California, and began working on an album with an old classmate and his dad’s bandmates from the Lt. Dan Band.

“The cancer had paralyzed him from the chest down, but he still had limited use of his right arm, and fingers on his left hand,” Sinise said. “Being right-handed, he would strap a stylus to his right hand, and he could punch letters and notes into his phone or iPad.”

Mac Sinise plays his harmonica as he sits in a wheelchair during a set.

Mac Sinise plays his harmonica during a set.

Gary Sinise Foundation

While the disease took away Mac’s ability to play the drums, Sinise said he learned how to play the harmonica using one hand.

While fighting his disease, often from a hospital bed or wheelchair, Sinise said his son managed to produce an entire album, Mac Sinise: Resurrection and Revival, that was sent to press the same week he passed away.

This feat was no easy task, and Sinise said he couldn’t be more proud of him. Hospital trips had become so common for Mac, the actor said he didn’t think much of what turned into his final trip on Dec. 30.

“He was having trouble getting his breath and after stabilizing him, he was admitted,” Sinise recalled. “I stayed with him as I had done many times before. During the first few days, I thought this would be another trip where we get things under control and head home.”

That wasn’t the case, however, as Sinise noted Mac’s days only got tougher from there, even as he was overjoyed to share his newly-produced music with hospital staff and his family, including his two sisters.

Mac Sinise smiles and holds hands with his sisters.

Mac Sinise smiles with his sisters in an undated photo.

Gary Sinise Foundation

“He was smiling and filled with joy when he would hear them sharing how moved they were by the music,” Sinise said. “But the days got tougher, and on January 5th, with the family all around him, he let go. His battle with Chordoma was over and he was at peace.”

Sinise acknowledged that his family’s battle with cancer isn’t a unique one, but said he hopes that sharing his story will “shine a little bit of light on what has been a difficult time for us as Mac was truly a light for all of us.”

“No one escapes cancer. It affects us all, as every one of us in this life knows someone, personally or otherwise, who has faced this awful disease,” he said. “Our family is grateful for all those who have helped us, loved us, and supported us in this fight.”

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