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Gary Sinise pens touching eulogy to son, McCanna Sinise

Gary Sinise with son, Mac

Mac Sinise | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 03/02/24

The Sinise family is mourning their son's passing, but celebrating his life with the posthumous release of a music album recorded just before Mac's passing.

Gary Sinise has written a touching eulogy for his son, McCanna Anthony “Mac” Sinise, who passed away on January 5, 2024, after a five-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Mac, who passed at 33, is remembered for his love of writing and performing music, his devotion to his Catholic faith, and his commitment to helping others with the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF). 

Gary Sinise recalled Mac’s “engaging and upbeat personality” that made him a natural choice for managing the foundation’s Education & Outreach Center. He joined the foundation in 2017, but his position was not to last as he was diagnosed with chordoma – a rare form of spinal cancer that is estimated to affect just 300 people in the US per year — in 2018.

Sinise described the summer of 2018 as “a real punch in the gut,” as just months prior to his son’s diagnosis, his wife, Moira, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After months of treatment, Moira’s cancer went into remission and has not returned since. For Mac, however, several surgeries to remove the cancer and stop infection did not yield the desired results. By May 2019, the chordoma had returned and worse, it was spreading. The spinal cancer disabled Mac, but he continued to work with the foundation until his third surgery in November 2019. 

The disability, which restricted the use of his legs and would eventually leave Mac with just partial use of his hands, was perhaps the hardest blow. Mac was a lifelong musician who studied songwriting and drumming at the USC Thornton School of Music. Gary remarked that Mac was an “exceptional drummer,” and he recalled how thrilling it was to play with Mac on stage with his Lt. Dan Band, when their usual drummer was otherwise engaged. 

“Those were some great times, father and son rockin’ out together for the troops.”

While Mac’s music had fallen to the wayside in favor of his work with the GSF, once he could no longer continue this work he began to revisit songs he had started to write a decade ago, but had yet to finish. With a little help from an old friend from music school, as well as from members of the Lt. Dan Band, Mac was able to finish “Arctic Circles,” an orchestral piece that is simply brimming with emotion. As his time was precious, Mac hurried to organize a recording session, which became the video for his song, featured below. 

It is clear from the look on Mac’s face in the video that he derived a lot of satisfaction from hearing his composition come to life, but for a performer, it’s hard to sit on the sidelines. Unable to play the drums anymore, Mac got a harmonica from his mother, which is when his musicianship became truly inspiring. From his sick bed, he taught himself how to play harmonica — and not just to play it, but to play it so well that he led the orchestra as the soloist for a recording of “Shenandoah.” 

Recording these two songs set off the musician in Mac, and the project soon grew to a full-length album, Resurrection & Revival, which is soon to be released through the GSF store. Mac was determined to see the album through to the end. In another video, for the song “Cloud Surfing,” Mac can be seen directing the operation via a video call, when he was not well enough to be present in the studio.

Unfortunately, the same week the album went to press, Mac succumbed to his cancer, passing away on January 5, 2024, surrounded by family. Gary wrote of his son’s passing: 

“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. He fought an uphill battle against a cancer that has no cure, but he never quit trying … I am so blessed, fortunate, and proud to be his dad.”

Read Gary Sinise’s entire touching tribute to his son Mac at the Gary Sinise Foundation’s website.

Learn more about chordoma and support research into ending this rare form of cancer at the Chordoma Foundation.

Tags:
CelebritiesDeathMusicParenting
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