How many people can say “Music (literally) saved my life?”

My first symptom of brain cancer was a funny headache I would get every time I would sing!  How crazy is that?  Later on, during my radiation treatments, music would soothe me as the doctors zapped me with laser beams that would ensure my cancer could never return.  I took a video of myself getting radiation once, and you can hear some good ole’ country music playing in the background once the cancer killing machine fires up.

About a year later, radiation and chemotherapy treatments behind me, no sign of brain cancer – I was in my car on a long drive and I started writing my own cheesy cancer song.  Maybe someday I’ll even record it.

But this blog isn’t about me.  It’s about the awesome music that inspires all of us cancer fighters.  This blog is about the songs that pump us up, make us cry, and inspire us to fight back.  Be sure to let us know what songs you think should be on this list in the comments below!

 

“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: Don’t stop believing, Hold on to that feeling.”

Who could possibly deny the unmistakable, raw cancer-fighting capability of this 1981 power ballad?  The San Francisco rock band known as Journey created an unforgettable masterpiece that has been firing up soldiers, professional wrestlers, football players, dentists, and cancer fighters for over 30 years.  It’s strength continues to rally cancer survivors everywhere.


“3 AM” by Matchbox 20

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “I can’t help but be scared of it all sometimes.  The rain’s gonna wash it away, I believe it.”

Anyone else used to think this was a break-up song?  I did too.  During a 2001 episode of VH1 Storytellers, Matchbox 20 vocalist Rob Thomas told the story of how he wrote this song, inspired by a difficult period of his life when his mother was dealing with cancer.  I challenge you to watch this video without reaching for the Kleenex!


“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.  I hope you had the time of your life.”

I’m not sure this song is even about cancer specifically, but this one really sums it up.  A cancer diagnosis is totally unpredictable (unless you’re eating really unhealthy, not staying active, spending loads of time in a tanning bed, and/or drinking and smoking regularly).  Depending on your personal philosophy, we may not be able to agree that “in the end it’s right” in regards to cancer.  Your cancer journey is scary for sure, but it can still be fun, uplifting, inspiring, empowering, The list goes on…  Cancer or not, when it’s all said and done, we hope you had the time of your life.


“Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: Tuesday night at the Bible study we lift our hands and pray over your body, but nothing ever happens.”

This is one is one of the most beautifully, depressing songs you’ve probably never heard.  In the video below, Sufjan Stevens starts the song by telling the audience that it’s a song about the Polish war hero Casimir Pulaski.  And while in some awesomely abstract way, that may be true, but to me, it’s a song about someone the writer loved, who was diagnosed with cancer.  What’s your take on this one?


“Perseverance” by Hatebreed

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “Face your torment and dismantle your doubt.”

Diagnosed with cancer?  It’s time to suck it up and get tough!  I used to be a metalhead and this one never failed to pump me up.  If you need a little kick in the butt – Hatebreed’s “Perseverance” is a brute, no-nonsense, slightly terrifying, heavy metal, fist pounding, “tell cancer where to stick it” anthem.  Does anyone else get the feeling that lead singer Jamey Jasta is angry with you as you watch this one?  If this one doesn’t pump you up, it’ll scare the cancer right out of you!  Seriously, this song is awesome.


“Mission” by Lupe Fiasco

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “I could have died but I came out fighting.”

Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco describes this song “as a track to empower those facing cancer, revere cancer survivors and remember those who have passed to due to cancer related illnesses.”  This song nails the cancer fight in so many ways.


“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: Oh baby there ain’t no mountain high enough.”

This is a special one to us here at Above + Beyond Cancer.  The first time our group of cancer survivors laid eyes on the world’s highest mountain during the Above + Beyond Cancer: Mount Everest Base Camp Trek of 2011, our group started crying, dancing, and singing this song on an overlook near the mountain of Namche Bazaar, Nepal.  Above + Beyond Cancer looks at the cancer journey the same way we look at climbing a mountain.  It’s tough as hell, but we can get through it together, and we can inspire the world while we do it – Cause Baby there ain’t no mountain high enough!


“Clouds” by Zach Sobiech

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “And we’ll go up, up, up but I’ll fly a little higher, we’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer.”

In early 2013 the world was captivated by the amazing story of Minnesota osteosarcoma patient Zach Sobiech.  Zach’s cancer diagnosis was a death sentence, and he knew it.  It didn’t stop him from writing this beautiful song.  Zach Sobiech died in May of 2013.  Zach’s determination in the face of darkness continues to inspire people all around the world today.


“Cancer” by My Chemical Romance

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “All my hairs abandoned all my body, oh my agony.”

When I was diagnosed with cancer a good friend of mine told me I had to hear this song.  What the heck was he thinking?  This is literally the most depressing song I’ve ever heard in my entire life!  But in all seriousness, it’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching glimpse into the fear and the reality that unfortunately many cancer patients still face today.


“Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim Mcgraw

Cancer Fighting Lyrics: “Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.”

Just in case you wondered, yes, I saved the best for last.  This song hits a home run for anyone who’s ever been affected by cancer in some way – which is pretty much everyone in the world.  Tim Mcgraw’s 2004 hit reached #1 on US Billboard Charts, was named the number one country song of the year, and won an award for best music video.  This song encourages us to do exactly what we should be doing (cancer or not) – living our lives to the fullest!

 

What songs are we missing?  Be sure to tell us in the comments below!

 

70 Responses to “10 Best Cancer Fighting Songs Ever”

  1. Meganne Masko, PhD, MT-BC/L

    Thank you for this blog post. As a board certified music therapist and cancer researcher, I see patients using music every day to help them cope and fight. Part of my job is to help them prepare and use music in a variety of ways to its best possible effect. Sometimes it’s distraction from painful treatments. Sometimes is making chemo slightly more tolerable. Sometimes it’s expressing pain and frustration because the scan didn’t come out quite the way they thought it would. No matter why anyone wants to use music, the way to get the most out of it is to match it to your mood and preferences. Maybe country and western really calms you down when you are upset. Maybe, like me, there are days when you just need the “death metal” station on Pandora to help you relax. Maybe you love Enya. Whatever it is, listen to it regularly when you feel like you need it. Research demonstrates that listening to your preferred music can improve your immune function, blood pressure, and perceived quality of life. If you can, find a board-certified music therapist who can give you even more ways to use music to help you heal.

    Reply
  2. Amy

    david m. bailey’s One More Day, Live Forever, Brick by Brick, Celebrate the Good, Holy Healer, anything off the Hope cd collection. david lived 14 years with a ‘you will die in 6 months’ GBM brain tumor diagnosis. What a hero both in the way he lived his life and the songs he wrote!

    Reply
  3. Chance Frerichs

    I would add My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” to the list. To me the song represents that even though you’ve been knocked down you’ll get back up and won’t give up no matter what

    Reply
  4. Erik Sheldon

    Mandisa – “Overcomer”

    Reply
  5. Lindsay

    “Soldiers” by Otherwise. Every single lyric hits the nail on the head. It still gives me chills when I hear it, and it got me through my entire battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:

    “In this life there’s no surrender,
    There’s nothing left for us to do,
    Find the strength to see this through…

    We are the ones who will never be broken,
    With our final breath,
    We’ll fight to the death.
    We are soldiers, we are soldiers.
    Woah woah woah whoa
    We are soldiers.

    I stand here right beside you,
    Tonight we’re fighting for our lives.”

    Reply
  6. Kent

    Run for Life – Melissa Etheridge

    Reply
  7. Stig

    LIVE by Ultravox

    time will find a way
    a way to make your world go round
    present an empty day
    a canvas for your words
    to paint the things you see
    a chapter still to come
    don’t you know that every picture holds a story

    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again
    soon to find your road to everything
    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again

    i’ve seen it all before
    the emptiness and empty heart
    bewildered and unsure
    one moment and it’s gone
    release and set you free
    to cast away your ties
    to radiate and shine to light your path to glory

    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again
    soon to find your road to everything
    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again

    time will ind a way
    i’ve seen it all before

    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again
    soon to find your road to everything
    don’t you know you’ll learn to live again

    Reply
  8. Stig

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle (from Monty Python)
    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There’s something you’ve forgotten
    And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you’re feeling in the dumps
    Don’t be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    For life is quite absurd
    And death’s the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.
    Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

    So always look on the bright side of death
    Just before you draw your terminal breath

    Life’s a piece of shit
    When you look at it
    Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
    You’ll see it’s all a show
    Keep ’em laughing as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

    And always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the right side of life…
    (Come on guys, cheer up!)
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    (Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    (I mean – what have you got to lose?)
    (You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
    What have you lost? Nothing!)
    Always look on the right side of life…

    Reply
  9. Brady

    Pink Warrior

    Reply
  10. Ashley

    “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” by Martina McBride

    Reply
    • Haidyn

      yassssss!!!!!!!! OOOOOOOOMMMMMGGGGGG
      I love this song so much. When I was in the hospital with my aunt and figured out she had stage 2 cancer that song turned on , and so now everytime I hear this song it makes me cry.

      Reply
  11. Antionette

    I would add “He’s my son” by Mark Schultz defiantly a tissue box required!

    Reply
  12. Modules

    Pierce The Veil – A Match Into Water

    Reply
    • Kennedy

      Yes, this list really needs it. Especially since it’s a really beautiful and powerful song with emotion behind every word. The story is great too and I’m happy for Vic and the girl.

      (I actually clicked on this to see if “A Match to Water” was here.)

      Reply
  13. Leora

    “Fight” by the Cure (hmmm, just noticed the relevance of the band name, too 🙂

    Reply
  14. Tea

    A late comment with a dutch band, “don’t give up the fight” by Racoon.

    Reply
  15. Rick

    “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot” by Sting and the Police

    Reply
  16. John

    Though much of the album “Hypnotize” by System of a Down makes me think of my cancer treatment, the one that feels most “cancer fighting” is the song Lonely Day. Nothing ever truly summed up feelings I felt going through this treatment.
    Some lyrics include:
    “Such a lonely day, and it’s mine. The loneliest day of my life.”
    “A day that I’ll never miss.”
    “It’s a day that I’m glad I survived.”

    Reply
  17. Hollie

    This is awesome! Just updated my play list and added the suggestions.
    My new tattoo on my back is from Foo Fighter’s song “Walk”: You keep alive a moment at a time.

    You keep alive a moment at a time
    But still inside a whisper to a riot
    To sacrifice but knowing to survive
    The first decline another state of mind
    I’m on my knees, I’m praying for a sign
    Forever, whenever
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna die
    I’m on my knees
    I never wanna die
    I’m dancing on my grave
    I’m running through the fire
    Forever, whatever
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna leave
    I’ll never say goodbye
    Forever, whatever
    Forever, whatever

    Reply
  18. Sejana

    How about “Fighter” by Jamie Grace? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBy6UJTdvmo

    Reply
    • Sejana

      Thank you for making this post. Great songs. I was looking for an appropriate song for 9 year old girl with bone cancer… I hope you are doing well and still Fighting!

      Reply
    • HALEY BURR

      OMG I LOVE THAT SONG!!!!!! My best friend just passes away 3 weeks ago with DIPG

      Reply
  19. Raj Sood

    I would like to share this YouTube song which my son did for me after I was diagnosed with Multiple Mylemo back in October of 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoDq7v7UVFE
    Hopefully, some one in a similar situation may be able to relate to it and find some comfort and hope.

    Reply
    • Annette Dawson

      Hi…just tried to see your song…but it will not show it…just says its private….

      Reply
  20. Jason

    Randy Owen – Braid my hair

    Reply
  21. livvy

    I think that fight song will be a great song

    Reply
  22. PoppaMike

    Live Like a Warrior & One Day by Matisyahu

    Fight Song, of course

    The Souther Cruisers Riding Club raises tens of thousands of dollars for St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital in TN. There’s a song related to this, country song by a girl, can’t remember the name.

    Reply
  23. Angela

    This is not Goodbye by Melissa Etheridge

    Reply
  24. Angela

    I would listen to “It’s not my time” by Three Doors Down every day driving to my radiation appointments. Still consider it a fight song for me 6 years out!

    Reply
  25. Kay

    Prizefighter by Trisha Yearwood

    Reply
  26. Lee

    I just found a song for my brother and his journey with colon cancer. “Im going to tear your playhouse down” by Paul Young.

    Reply
  27. Joan Huhn

    Keep On Walkin’ by David Bailey, a long survivor of GBM. He has since passed away but not without giving an ocean of hope, love, and encouragement to others through his music.

    Reply
  28. Sydney

    I mean Tough by Craig Morgan

    Reply
  29. Beth Patterson

    I listened to some of the songs and they strengthened my resolve to beat my cancer. I’m 22 and was recently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and it hit hard. I’ve been sick for 3.5 weeks before the diagnosis and I started to feel very depressed from it till I heard live like your dying and that reminded me of all the things I want to do. Music some how always makes me feel better about myself. Thank you Tim McGraw for the inspiring song!

    Reply
  30. Jennifer Aguilar

    Skin by Rascal Flatts. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and my boyfriend told me to listen to this song not gonna lie it made me bawl to watch the video I actually couldn’t finish it the first time I tried to watch it cause I was in the process of losing my hair. But now it helps me through.

    Reply
  31. Dis girl

    1 Take me to church ~ andrew
    2 This is my fight song

    Reply
  32. Nikki

    Permanent by David Cook

    Reply
  33. Samantha

    Stand-Rascal Flatts
    My mom is 41 and two yrs ago she found out she had stage 1 uterine cancer. They did a hysterectomy and declared her cancer free. Two days ago, they fou.d cancer in her liver and gall bladder. This song is our familys fight anthem. Its OURS because my mama isnt doing this alone. She has all four of us kids, my dad and our kids standing with her.

    Reply
  34. Greene Knight

    Won’t back down, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    Reply
  35. Kat

    You should definitely put A Match Into Water by Pierce The Veil on here. The lyric that stick out to me the most about cancer was “I know that you’re in pain, but if we die at the same time does it still scare you” the singer, Vic Fuentes, said himself the song is about overcoming cancer and how the person’s partner dealt with it as well.

    Reply
  36. Jen

    Rachel Platten
    Fight Song

    Thank you for the list. My sister has been cancer free for 6 years and we are going to celebrate with her. To symbolize her journey with cancer, we will be hiking up the side of a bluff in southeastern mm. Your list of inspiring songs playing. Posters motivating us as well.

    Reply
  37. Alec Scheepers

    Justin Hines -courage (come out to play)(https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZjVsEo0ub4)
    Bob Dylan – Knockin On Heavens Door (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gazW7MOqHzQ)
    Justin Hines – say what you will(https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PL6738A70F75E43AE4&v=jPZlFW4nDmk)

    Reply
  38. Mary a salzl

    Song to add … I’m gonna love you through it by: Martina mcbride.

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago this song got me through a lot of treatments.

    Reply
  39. Alec Scheepers

    If you want more check out more of Justin Hines.He is an amazing artist and poet.he is a legend doing all this.he has had experience as he has Larsons syndrome (A disease where your joints are constantly dislocating) So he had to get his joints fused.So Justin Hines your my hero!!!!!!
    (Alec Scheepers 12years old and inspired )

    Reply
  40. Jay

    I Lived – One Republic

    Reply
  41. All Songs About Cancer | Find Mesotheliom Lawyer

    […] 10 Best Cancer Fighting Songs Ever – Above + Beyond Cancer – 10 Best Cancer Fighting Songs Ever. A cancer diagnosis brings a range of emotions. In this journal, Brain Cancer Survivor Justin Anderson brings you a range of songs … […]

    Reply
  42. HALEY BURR

    Rachel Platten – Fight Song
    Jamie Grace – Fighter

    Reply
  43. Janice Bevans

    Skin(Sarabeth) – by Rascal Flatts – Came out when I was also undergoing leukemia tx.
    We are the World – USA for Africa – good for a Relay for Life event.
    And just finished watching AGT and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Sung by a cancer survivor herself.

    Reply
  44. Andrew

    Guys im not very aware if this situation of brain tumors and cancer patients and i was really looking on this website for a song that said something along the lines of “i am having a tumor in the brain” and i just wanted to say that this story has inspired many souls around the world ?

    Reply
  45. Jennifer Rhoades

    Fight Song by Rachel Platte

    “This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song, and I don’t really care if nobody else believes, but I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

    Reply
  46. Shari Van Over

    Thanks for this list. I’ve just started making mine to help me get through brain tumor radiation, which scares the daylight out of me! I’d like to suggest “Rise Up” by Andra Day and “Battle Cry” from the Empire soundtrack (believe it or not).

    Reply
  47. John

    Do a YouTube search for “New Haven train station flash mob” A friend had melanoma (since passed rest in peace) but she LOVED that video.

    Reply
  48. Teri

    Terri Clark’s No Fear is my go to song when ever I fear that my cancer might have returned or I play this song multiple times during the days that I have to tests to make sure that my cancer is still in remission. The reason I love this song is because of the lyric Don’t want to live afraid of dying.

    Reply
  49. A fighters freind

    I sang “fight song” by rachel platten and its is a great song about not giving up and the doctor can say what he wants but you shouldnt care because you are the one fighting and you will fight… To anyone battling keep stong and kick cancers ass

    Reply
  50. James

    Rascal Flatts – Skin

    Reply
  51. Bill

    I chose Breaking Benjamin- I Will Not Bow as my fight song in my colon cancer battle.
    All is lost again
    But I’m not giving in
    I will not bow
    I will not break

    Reply
  52. Melissa L Mccoy

    Rachel platten fight song

    Reply
  53. Sallyjane

    “Blessings” by Laura Story

    Reply
  54. Josh

    Faith when I fall by Kip Moore. Changed my life

    Reply
  55. Tom

    Several years ago I was co-chair of a Relay For Life. I had the DJ play “Better Days” by Goo Goo Dolls at the beginning of the survivor lap. I’ve always thought that song was very appropriate.

    Reply
  56. Ann

    Warrior is a child by Gary Valenciano. There are other songs of him that really gives inspiration to cancer warriors like me.

    Reply
  57. Susana

    Thanks a lot for sharing, i’m going through a sarcoma and i need music to ease my days.
    I m also motivated by Staying alive by te Bee gees.

    Reply
  58. Scott Craft

    I wrote a song for my wife who had liver cancer. She since has beat cancer and received a liver transplant. Life is back to a new normal, but we never take a day for granted anymore.
    Check it out on itunes…. Its called: “Never Thought I’d be a Soldier” by Scott Craft

    Reply
  59. Crystal

    Fight song

    This is my fight song take back my life song

    Reply
  60. PJ

    I got Glioblatoma Multiforme (GBM) beginning of 2018 and this song is my fight song! to the Max! “CUT THE CORD” by SHINE DOWN

    Reply

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