20 Inspirational Songs for Cancer Patients
Published June 28, 2021
Many people seek solace in music when confronted with difficult life circumstances. This is especially true for music fans who know someone who is ill or who is ill themselves.
According to a study, music therapy or listening to inspirational songs empower those facing cancer, especially during their treatment process. It also promotes wellness, improves physical and emotional well-being and their quality of life.
These songs about cancer and the fight against it exemplify the strength and hope that music can instill in someone else’s life. At the same time, these types of music can provide similar solace to their loved ones.
Since music therapy can be beneficial to everyone, especially for cancer warriors, here are some inspirational songs that will remind them to stay strong and keep fighting.
For Those Diagnosed With Cancer
1. “Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson
“The storm is coming but I don’t mind
People are dying, I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing now
I want to change the world, and instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me
But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
Now, now, now”
Getting any types of cancer diagnosis immediately puts a person’s future in jeopardy. However, this song serves as a reminder that, while one cannot predict what will happen tomorrow, if one is alive right now, one can simply keep moving forward together with hope.
2. “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
“And I won’t back down
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
Well, I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground”
As is often the case with songs that end up on cancer awareness playlists, this one isn’t specifically about cancer. Still, numerous cancer patients have stated that it helped them adopt a more optimistic attitude following their initial diagnosis.
3. “Let it Hurt” by Rascal Flatts
“So let it hurt, let it bleed
Let it take you right down to your knees
Let it burn to the worst degree
May not be what you want, but it’s what you need
Sometimes the only way around it
Is to let love do its work
And let it hurt
Yeah, let it hurt”
Although this song can be interpreted in various ways, the way the lyrics describe someone attempting to put on a brave face after receiving shocking news early in the morning. It is strikingly similar to the experience many people have when they first learn they have cancer.
4. “Make it Go Away (Radiation Song)” by Sheryl Crow
“Sometimes I wonder which hurts the worse
The thought of dying or reliving every hurt
Was love the illness and disease the cure
Oh, the cure?
Make it go away
(Make it go away)
Make it go away
(Make it go away)”
Anyone who has ever received a cancer diagnosis can probably relate to the confusion expressed in these lyrics. They hit the nail on the head when it comes to the desperate desire for something that will simply make the illness go away.
5. “I’ll Stand by You” by The Pretenders
“Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
‘Cause I’ve seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less”
Again, not all songs about cancer must directly address the disease. Numerous cancer patients have found solace in songs that are unrelated to their current situation. For instance, the lyrics of this song illustrate the type of support that cancer patients require from their loved ones following a diagnosis.
For Those Living With Cancer
There are many beneficial but simple strategies cancer patients can do to make themselves envision a brighter future, such as using a journal to record what they are going through or basically just to remind them that they are still here. Additionally, they can listen to one of these motivational songs.
6. “Fight Like a Girl” by Anita Cochran
“Cause I’m gonna fight like a girl
I’m gonna take my stand”
Anita Cochran wrote this song in response to her 2017 breast cancer diagnosis, expressing her determination in the face of a very painful and potentially overwhelming situation.
7. “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” by Martina McBride
“She dropped the phone and burst into tears
The doctor just confirmed her fears
Her husband held it and held her tight
Cancer doesn’t discriminate or care if you’re just 38
With three kids who need her in their lives
He said, ‘I know that you’re afraid and I am, too
But you’ll never be alone, I promise you’”
This is one of the most emotionally charged songs about cancer because it explores the unique ways in which family members (and any caregivers) can best support someone who has been diagnosed with the disease and is fighting for their life.
8. “Hold On” by Gregg Lizee, Ph.D.
I can feel it getting better
Can you feel it getting better?”
Greg Lizee, Ph.D. was an associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology at the time. He wrote this song of hope for his personal friend who was going through a difficult time, as well as for all cancer patients.
9. “Just Stand Up” by Artists Stand Up to Cancer
“I’m tellin’ you, things get better, through whatever
If you fall, dust it off, don’t let up
Don’t you know you can go be your own miracle?
You need to know, ooh yeah
If the mind keeps thinking you’ve had enough
But the heart keeps telling you don’t give up
Who are we to be questioning, wondering what is what?
Don’t give up!
Through it all, just stand up!”
Numerous popular artists, including Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Carrie Underwood, and a slew of others, collaborated in 2008 to perform this inspirational song during the “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon.
10. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten”
“And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me”
Although there is little evidence that this song is specifically about cancer, many cancer fighting patients have adopted it as an anthem for their own personal battles with the disease. This song is like their statement to cancer that they will never give up, and they will keep fighting. As long as they have their voices, they have the power to take back control of their lives.
For Those Recovering From Cancer
Surviving cancer is a momentous experience worth celebrating. However, as several of these songs demonstrate, the struggle does not end when a cancer patient is no longer ill. Thus, music can assist them in overcoming any lingering difficulties.
11. “I Run for Life” by Melissa Etheridge
“It’s been years since they told her about it
The darkness her body possessed
And the scars are still there in the mirror
Every day that she gets herself dressed
Though the pain is miles and miles behind her
And the fear is now a docile beast
If you ask her why she is still running
She’ll tell you it makes her complete
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth, for all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for life”
This is an especially moving song about cancer due to Melissa Etheridge’s own successful battle with breast cancer. As one of the most well-known cancer survivors in popular music at the time, she also used her platform to inspire others who were experiencing similar difficulties.
12. “Scar” by Carly Simon
“’Cause the night is warm and all full of stars
There’s a wise woman
She’s moved right into my heart
She says: Look for the signs
You won’t have to look far
Lead with your spirit and follow
Follow your scar”
Carly Simon wrote this song following her recovery from breast cancer to acknowledge that the struggle does leave scars, but that if a survivor can accept them, they can move forward in life with greater strength.
13. “Mission” by Lupe Fiasco
“Breast cancer can’t hold me back
That’s the answer when they told me that
It can knock me down, but I’m gonna be back
Strong, down for whatever exceptional, and I don’t know how to quit
And I never said never you can have that hair cause real talk bitch
I think I look better. Let’s do it (do it)”
The song’s massively inspirational lyrics honor “pink ribbon women” who overcome breast cancer despite doctors telling them they don’t have much time left.
14. “When Pink is Just a Color Again” by Kal Hourd
“When pink was just a color and ribbons tied back hair
Every race was just for fun and she ran without a care
Today is one step closer to being like back then
When pink, is just a color again”
Following their recovery from cancer, many survivors dedicate themselves to assisting others in their fight against the disease. Many can also relate to the sentiments expressed in this song, in which Kal Hourd yearns for the day when breast cancer will be eradicated, and pink will revert to being just another pretty color.
15. “Flower” by Jewel
“She’s always known
That there was something more
Like a hunger in her belly
Like an instinct tellin’ her that there was something more
This living can’t be called livin’
If it’s really only half a life
She’s a flower that grows despite cement walls
And she will survive
She will survive”
Jewel originally wrote this song to raise awareness about breast cancer survivors’ reconstruction. It serves as a reminder that even after a person has survived cancer, they may continue to face difficulties that others should recognize.
For Those Dying From Cancer
Accepting the reality that not all cancer patients survive their illness is crucial, especially for them and the people they will leave behind. These songs may make it a little bit easier to accept this tragic but actual fact.
16. “3 AM” by Matchbox 20
“She says it’s cold outside and she hands me my raincoat
She’s always worried about things like that
She says it’s all gonna end and it might as well be my fault
And she only sleeps when it’s raining
And she screams, and her voice is straining
And she says, baby
It’s three a.m. I must be lonely
When she says, baby
Well I can’t help but be scared of it all sometimes
And the rain’s gonna wash away I believe it”
This ’90s hit was so infectious that many were unaware it was inspired by a period in singer Rob Thomas’s life as an adolescent witnessing his mother battle cancer. If you’re looking for songs about coping with a parent with cancer, this is one of the most moving songs when you listen to the lyrics carefully.
17. “For Martha” by Smashing Pumpkins
“Whenever I run
Whenever I run to you lost one
It’s never done
Just hanging on
Just past has let me be
Returning as if dream
Shattered as belief
If you have to go don’t say goodbye
If you have to go don’t you cry
If you have to go I will get by
Someday I’ll follow you and see you on the other side”
After the death of bandleader Billy Corgan‘s mother, the Smashing Pumpkins released this epic song about cancer and its range of emotions.
18. “Cancer” by My Chemical Romance
“Now turn away
‘Cause I’m awful just to see
‘Cause all my hair’s abandoned all my body
All my agony
Know that I will never marry
Baby I’m just soggy from the chemo
But counting down the days to go
It just ain’t living
And I just hope you know
That if you say (if you say)
Good-bye today (good-bye today)
I’d ask you to be true (I’d ask you to be true)”
Many cancer patients who are on the verge of death feel compelled to put on a brave face. The raw lyrics of this song remind us that this is not always easy to do.
19. “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
“Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
And my clothes don’t fit me no more
A thousand miles just to slip this skin
The night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia?”
This Oscar-winning song about being sick eloquently conveys the feelings of isolation that a person may experience while battling a terminal illness. While Bruce Springsteen wrote the song for the film, Philadelphia, about a man with AIDS, the song can also be considered a song about cancer due to the absence of any specific illness mentioned in the lyrics.
20. “The Drugs Don’t Work” by The Verve
“Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again
But I know I’m on a losing streak
As I pass down by your street
And if you wanna show, then just let me know
And I’ll sing in your ear again”
Although some have assumed the song’s title references recreational drugs, Richard Ashcroft of The Verve wrote this incredibly moving song to describe his feelings when his father was so close to dying of cancer. The time when his medication was no longer effective and instead had a detrimental effect on his emotional state.
Having cancer is undoubtedly a hard battle for anyone. However, when you have a disease and feel like everything’s going to end soon, support is the only thing you need from your family and the people around you.
Although it’s a fact that sometimes, no words can describe how and what you are feeling, remember that while words can’t always help you cope up, music can help remind you that there is still hope, especially during tough times.
That is why some people who are battling cancer use music to motivate and express themselves. As Hans Christian Andersen said, “When words fail, music speaks. ”
About The Author
As a professional writer at many renowned websites Krizzia Paolyn has covered a wide range of topics in many industries. Her knack for uncovering important truths and conducting thorough research on each topic she writes about has helped thousands of people across the world.