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Actor Gary Sinise Reflects on Prayer, God, Son's Death After Cancer Battle: 'A Man of Great Faith'

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“He was a man of great faith — great, great faith.”

That’s how actor Gary Sinise describes his 33-year-old son, Mac, who died in January after a harrowing battle with Chordoma, a persistent and rare cancer that starts in the spine.

The “Forrest Gump” star told CBN News his son “loved his Catholic faith” and deeply embraced it throughout his difficult journey.

“It was just inspiring to see how it helped sustain him through this cancer battle,” Sinise said of the health struggle that started in 2018.

For years, the family fought alongside Mac, trying available medications and anything believed to be able to potentially heal him.

Sinise said he was there to battle alongside Mac as long as he kept fighting.

Mac’s Medical Journey

And that expedition wasn’t easy, as the loving dad recounted the “very disabling and crippling” nature of the disease. After the first tumor was removed in September 2018, Mac was monitored. Tragically, by May 2019, the cancer had returned.

“It had come back and it was starting to spread throughout his body,” Sinise said. “He was back in the hospital again, and he started chemo and radiation at that point, but there is no cure for this particular cancer. There’s no reliable drug that has been used to fight it that has been effective.”

The unpredictable nature of the cancer meant doctors would often throw different treatments and medications into the mix, hoping to thwart the malignancy — but to no avail.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

Mac faced spinal surgery, multitudes of hospital visits, and more, bravely fighting for his life along the way.

“These tumors were growing very fast,” Sinise said. “Uncharacteristically fast for Chordoma.”

Mac had to resign from his position with the Gary Sinise Foundation as he mustered the energy to fight on, relying on faith to cope and process. Throughout the ordeal, Mac prayed, journaled — and revisited creating music he started years before but never completed.

“Early 2023, he said to me, ‘Dad, you know, there’s some music that I never finished in college, and I think I’d like to try to finish it,'” Sinise recalled. “And he hadn’t been thinking about music much at all, really, but early 2023, he starts talking about that.”

So, Mac embarked on that mission, partnering with a friend to help him see it to fruition. By July 2023, he was in the studio recording a beautiful piece called “Arctic Circles,” a song that left Sinise emotional.

“I was just a sobbing mess when I went to the recording studio with him, because he hadn’t played any of it for me at all,” he said. “I had never heard it when he wrote it in college.”

Sinise continued, “I was so unprepared for what I was going to hear. It was all a surprise, and it was all a beautiful, beautiful moment to hear.”

When the family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, last year, Mac was able to continue working on an album, a quest sparked by his revisiting of “Arctic Circles.”

The Roots of Mac’s Love for Music

As Sinise recounted, the roots of Mac’s love for music ran deep, being fostered early on when Sinise and his wife, Moira, bought Mac a drum set.

Sinise said his son was immediately a natural who was quickly able to play a rock beat.

His musical chops only grew over the years, as he played throughout high school and later went to college for music, studying composition and songwriting.

“He got out of college [and] toured around Europe … with different bands, and around the states with different bands,” Sinise said. “I think, in his heart, eventually, he wanted to … be a composer.”

In early November — just two months before his death — Mac was back in the studio in Nashville recording more music, assembling a record that will now be sold to benefit his father’s foundation.



“Mac thought, you know, if there were any sales, he’d like the money to go to help the troops and veterans,” Sinise said. “So, we put it on pre-sale at … there’s well over 2,000 pre-orders for the record.”

The record’s completion was the recognition of one of Mac’s ultimate goals, according to his dad.

“He fulfilled his dream,” Sinise said. “He accomplished what he was looking to do, and he was happy at the end of his life — and that’s comforting for our family for sure.”

How Faith Sustained Mac

Despite Mac’s struggles, Sinise said his son’s spirit was truly uplifted and bright, with his faith supporting him throughout his tribulations.

“I know his faith played a strong part in helping to sustain him through this battle,” Sinise said. “And I was there with him every step of the way in these hospital stays and with [him] those final days before he died and saw him struggling.”

He continued, “But I knew that he was fulfilled with what he’d accomplished at the end.”

Sinise, who is also a man of deep faith, was candid about the struggles of being a loving father watching his son suffer, especially as his wife, Moira, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer just months before Mac’s diagnosis, herself facing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The family confronted a grueling journey in 2018 and through subsequent years — one that would leave anyone reeling. But Sinise still appears grateful and reflective, looking back at how much his son taught him along the way.

“Have there been times where I just kind of fell down on the stairs and kind of let the emotion out … because, at times, I didn’t know what else to do?” he said, admitting he has faced such a circumstance. “I was trying to do everything I could to find solutions for Mac and his cancer.”

Yet Sinise got back up, pressed on, and is now sharing his son’s legacy to inspire others.

The actor had seen intense pain and suffering many times before, but from a very different perspective. Sinise’s foundation serves veterans and their families — men and women who have given their all for America and who often find themselves in great need of emotional and physical support.

“All those broken families that I’ve had the privilege to touch over the years — our veterans, and first responders, and Gold Star kids … they’ve all had those moments where they buckle, and they fall down,” Sinise said. “Somebody has to reach out, and touch you, and help to pick you up.”

While he said he’s had the privilege of doing this for others, he now is grateful others have also done the same for him. After Mac’s death, he decided to make the family’s private battle public to help inspire others through his journey.

Mac’s Reflections

As Mac’s life came to a close, Sinise said his son was thinking a lot about his mortality, recognizing “cancer was beating him” and realizing what that would mean. He spent time reading a St. Augustine prayer book that contained underlined text and his thoughts, giving a lens into his spiritual condition.

“That was his special prayer book that he left his mother,” Sinise said. “He wrote in it, ‘At my passing, give to mom,’ and a lot of things [are] underlined in there.”

Mac also left behind media files that now offer the family even greater insight into what was streaming through his heart and mind as he approached the end of his cancer fight.

“I’ve discovered a lot of stuff on his iPhone and iPad that he wrote, even things that he recorded, you know, selfies of him talking to the camera about what he was thinking and what he was feeling,” Sinise said. “And, so I knew he was preparing himself as much as possible, and my job was just to keep trying to find drugs, keep trying to fight, and I never wanted to give up, even in the hospital in those final days.”

Sinise reflected on Mac’s final hospital stay, recalling how he initially hoped it would be like every other medical bump in the road. Mac would stabilize, go home, and reorient.

But this time was tragically different.

“In all my 69 years … sorrowful moments or painful moments along the way, I’ve never experienced a sorrow and a pain like this,” Sinise said, speaking about the hours and minutes leading up to Mac’s death. “He was beginning to let go. The fight was going out of him.”

Sinise recalled sitting in the hospital room that morning and praying, knowing full well what was likely before him. Usually, the pulmonary doctor would walk in, and the actor would ask what new medicine or tool they could try.

But that didn’t happen this time.

“This time, he just sat down and stared at me,” Sinise said. “And I stared back at him, and then I just asked him if I should start making calls, so I did.”

Not long after, Mac passed away.

Sinise has since been blown away by the support from friends, family – and strangers.

“After I posted the story, it’s incredible the amount of love that poured out to us after people read that the media picked it up,” he said. “So, it went all over the place, but social media picked it up, and millions of people saw it, and we started to receive this outpouring of support, and love, and expressions of grief, and sharing their own experiences of losing their own sons or daughters.”

Sinise and his family have now been working to help the Chordoma Foundation so that other families can be spared the same pain and suffering they experienced.

You can also support the Gary Sinise Foundation by pre-ordering Mac’s album, “Resurrection and Revival” here. Continue to pray for Sinise and his family as they navigate such tragic loss.

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.