Actor Gary Sinise’s Son Passes Away at 33 From Rare Bone Cancer

Audrey Enjoli
By Audrey Enjoli
February 28, 2024Entertainment
Actor Gary Sinise’s Son Passes Away at 33 From Rare Bone Cancer
Emmy Award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise hosts the 2021 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington in this image released on May 28, 2021. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)

Gary Sinise is mourning the loss of his son, McCanna Anthony “Mac” Sinise. Mac passed away on Jan. 5 at the age of 33 after battling chordoma, a rare type of bone cancer, and was laid to rest on Jan. 23.

The 68-year-old actor and humanitarian, best known for playing the character Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” announced his son’s passing in a tribute shared on the Gary Sinise Foundation’s website.

“Like any family experiencing such a loss, we are heartbroken and have been managing as best we can,” Mr. Sinise wrote. “As parents, it is so difficult losing a child. My heart goes out to all who have suffered a similar loss, and to anyone who has lost a loved one.”

“Our family’s cancer fight lasted for 5 ½ years, and it became more and more challenging as time went on,” he continued. “While our hearts ache at missing him, we are comforted in knowing that Mac is no longer struggling, and inspired and moved by how he managed it.”

Mr. Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to provide support to wounded veterans. Mac supported the actor’s mission, becoming the organization’s assistant manager of education and outreach in 2017.

“As a father, having him as part of the Foundation was a gift,” Mr. Sinise fondly shared. “He was a great representative who cared about the mission and those we serve, and I was eager to watch him grow with the organization.”

Confronting a Difficult Fight

In his moving tribute, Mr. Sinise noted that the summer of 2018 was a “particularly challenging time” for his family. His son was diagnosed with chordoma on Aug. 8, just two months after the actor’s wife, Moira, was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

“But over the years, through my mission to support our troops and families, I have met the most extraordinary people who have persevered and overcome the most difficult heartbreaking circumstances, and I have learned from them and been inspired by them,” he said. “Knowing them gave me strength. Perhaps it was God’s way of preparing me to meet our own difficult fight, having met and watched so many courageous families confronting what life had thrown at them.”

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, chordomas are cancerous tumors that develop in the bones along the length of the spine but usually occur in the lower back and base of the skull.

On average, the rare, slow-growing cancer is diagnosed in about 300 patients in the United States each year, per the National Cancer Institute. “In 70% of the cases the initial tumor can be removed, and it is cured,” Mr. Sinise wrote. “But in 30% of the cases, perhaps about 90 people per year, the cancer returns.”

After undergoing treatment for months, Moira went into remission and has remained cancer-free since then. Mac underwent surgery to remove the initial chordoma in September 2018 and faced an additional spine procedure in February of the following year.

“Unfortunately a follow up scan in May of 2019 would show that his Chordoma had come back and was spreading,” Mr. Sinise described.

“This began a long battle that disabled him more and more as time went on,” he continued. “The cancer fight was getting harder, but throughout most of 2019 he was still able to come to the GSF [Gary Sinise Foundation] office, until a third spine surgery in November of that year.”

In total, Mac underwent five spine surgeries, as well as radiation and continued chemotherapy. “He fought an uphill battle against a cancer that has no cure, but he never quit trying,” Mr. Sinise declared.

On Dec. 30, Mac made his final trip to the hospital, passing six days later while surrounded by family. “His battle with Chordoma was over and he was at peace,” his father wrote.

‘Mac Sinise: Resurrection and Revival’

During the final months of his life, Mac—a graduate of Los Angeles’ USC Thorton School of Music—was able to live out his dream of making music.

Mr. Sinise said his son, who had played the drums since he was nine years old, was an “exceptional drummer,” often helming the drum kit in the actor’s cover band, Lt. Dan Band, when the drummer, Danny Gottlieb, couldn’t play. “Those were some great times, father and son rockin’ out together for the troops,” Mr. Sinise, an electric bassist in the band, recalled.

Due to his battle with cancer, Mac was unable to continue playing the drums and assumed music “was a thing of the past.” However, he found inspiration in a piece of music he had started writing in college and was determined to finish it. He learned how to play the harmonica instead and named the piece “Arctic Circles,” which was inspired by the wintery nature shows he enjoyed watching during his hospital stays.

With the help of an entire team, including violinist and vocalist Dan Myers and pianist Ben Lewis—both members of the Lt. Dan Band—as well as composer Oliver Schnee, his father, famed music producer Bill Schnee, and Mac’s sister, Sophie, the piece grew wings.

An entire album, called “Resurrection & Revival,” swiftly followed, encompassing “a theme of bringing something that was old or unfinished back to life.”

From The Epoch Times

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