'Forrest Gump' star Gary Sinise’s son dies of rare bone cancer at 33


Actor Gary Sinise (left) said his son McCanna 'Mac' Sinise was diagnosed with chordoma in August 2018. Photo: Gary Sinise Foundation

Hollywood actor Gary Sinise said his son McCanna “Mac” Sinise had died at the age of 33 in January after battling a rare type of cancer.

The 68-year-old posted the heartbreaking tribute to his son on the website of Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF), which provides support for wounded veterans of the United States military, and his social media accounts on Feb 27.

The actor is best known for his role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor, a platoon leader who lost his legs in the Vietnam War, in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump (1994). He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role.

He also co-founded the cover band Lt. Dan Band, named after the character, with American musician and Vietnam War veteran Kimo Williams in 2003.

Sinise wrote that Mac died on Jan 5 after a five-and-a-half-year battle with chordoma, a rare type of cancer which originates in the spine and occurs in one out of a million people. Mac was laid to rest on Jan 23.

The actor said his son was diagnosed with the condition in August 2018. This was two months after Sinise’s wife, former American actress Moira Harris, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

Harris, 69, went into remission after months of treatment and has since been cancer-free. She and Sinise have two other children – daughters Sophie and Ella.

Mac joined GSF as assistant manager of education and outreach in February 2017.

He went for surgery to remove the initial tumour in September 2018, and had another spine procedure in February 2019. However, a follow-up scan in May 2019 showed that his chordoma had returned and was spreading.

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

The actor said his son was a drummer who would sometimes stand in for Lt. Dan Band’s drummer Danny Gottlieb at the band’s concerts.

The cancer later paralysed Mac from the chest down, but he still had limited use of his right arm and fingers on his left hand.

He learnt to play the harmonica and, together with composer and arranger Oliver Schnee, worked with Lt. Dan Band on the album Resurrection & Revival, which went to press the week he died.

“Like any family experiencing such a loss, we are heartbroken and have been managing as best we can. As parents, it is so difficult losing a child,” Sinise wrote. “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.”

The actor said his son did not give up even though he was fighting an uphill battle against a challenging condition.

“Mac loved movies, and we always told him he reminded us of the soldier at the end of the extraordinary film 1917, running through the battlefield, bombs going off all around him... Yet he keeps getting back up, refusing to quit and keeps running forward,” Sinise wrote, referring to the 2019 World War I film directed by Sam Mendes. “I am so blessed, fortunate and proud to be his dad.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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