Whether you’re looking for songs to inspire yourself on this cancer journey or you’re creating a mix for your friend, we’ve put together this list of “breast cancer songs” (okay, we’re a breast cancer website, but these songs will provide hope no matter what type of cancer you have).
Maybe you’re creating a soundtrack for chemo or radiation sessions. Or perhaps for comfort during cancer-induced insomnia. Music can be a great way to remember what you are fighting for and who you are. We hope these songs give you a bit of strength in those hard moments.
We all look to music to express our feelings — feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, or jealousy. October is just a couple months around the corner, and Breast Cancer Awareness will be on everyone’s radar, complete with pink pumpkins on doorsteps. No matter how you feel about Pinktober, sometimes the missing “awareness” piece is about the emotions and feelings of breast cancer survivors. It’s easy to teach how to do a breast self-exam, but not so easy to explain what it feels like to look in the mirror after a mastectomy. Maybe when you don’t know how to tell that friend what you’ve gone through, sharing a song might help.
These songs are awesome (albeit sometimes corny) ways to find the motivation, share a feeling, or encourage a friend. Dive right in!
“I Run for Life” – Melissa Etheridge
This is perhaps one of the more well-known songs about breast cancer. Melissa Etheridge created “I Run for Life” for Race for the Cure. Etheridge’s own experience with breast cancer inspired the song. She went through 10 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment during her own journey. Her song particularly focuses on the experiences of the survivor years out. If you’re in that place, you will feel the strength and power of her words at visceral level:
It’s a blur since they told me about it
How the darkness had taken its toll
And they cut into my skin and they cut into my body
But they will never get a piece of my soul.
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
We don’t think breast cancer songs actually need to be about breast cancer. For example, this song’s not about breast cancer at all, but it’s certainly a song of hope! In fact, I think every woman facing cancer is going to want to belt these strong words out. Need a song for a chemo session? This is a pretty awesome one.
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
“I Am Not My Hair” – India.Arie
Losing your hair to chemotherapy? These lyrics remind you, “I am not my hair!” Furthermore, it helps put appearances and people’s expectations in place. Trust me, if you go through chemotherapy, you’ll want to listen to this song many times over. You may find yourself humming “I am not my hair” while getting dressed for that first bald evening out (whether you’ve got a wig, wrap, or choose to go shiny on top). While this song is more about African American women’s experiences with societal expectations of their hair, India.Arie brings it around specifically to the woman bald from breast cancer as well:
Breast cancer and chemotherapy
Took away her crownin’ glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy every day of her life, oh
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald-headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like, heyHey (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
“Fight Like a Girl” – Anita Cochran
You may remember Anita Cochran from the 90s hit “What If I Said.” However, after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, Cochran put out a powerful new song. Need a new anthem? Want it to be a little kick-ass and angry. This is it. “I’m a fighter/I’m a survivor… I’m gonna fight like a girl.”
“Flower” – Jewel
Jewel sang “Flower” at a breast reconstruction awareness event to remind women that breast cancer does not define them. Jewel first wrote the song in her teens about surviving a bad relationship. But, she changed several verses later to make it applicable to a broader audience. It’s an inspirational gem.
Challenges do not define us
We are shaped by how we carry on
This is our opportunity
To decide the kind of women we want to become
And so, it is with great gratitude
And the strength of humility
We transform pain into victory
By digging our roots deep
“I’m Gonna Love You Through It” – Martina McBride
“I’m Gonna Love You Through It” tells the story of a wife and mother who is battling breast cancer, but it’s really more about the relationship of a woman (and the many other women highlighted in the video) to their caretakers. The song reminds women that they are not alone during their breast cancer journeys. Sung from the perspective of the woman’s husband, it features powerful lyrics and a great message. (HINT: If you’re a friend or family of a woman going facing breast cancer, this is a very powerful song to sing or give to her!)
She made it through the surgery fine
They said they caught it just in time
But they had to take more than they planned
Now it’s forced smiles and baggy shirts
To hide what the cancer took from her
But she just wants to feel like a woman again
She said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore”
He took her in his arms and said “That’s what my love is for”
“Scar” – Carly Simon
Struggling to look in the mirror after breast surgery? Carly Simon’s wrote this moving song after her own breast cancer experiences. “Scar” focuses on overcoming both the physical and emotional scars we get in life. Simon reminds us to “follow the scar,” and also that, “A really big man/ Loves a really good scar.” See more:
Cause the dawn breaks
And it’s breaking your heart
There’s a wise woman
She sits at the end of the bar
She says: Look for the signs
You won’t have to look far
Lead with your spirit and follow
Follow your scar
“I’m Not Dead” – Pink
Did anyone warn you about the vultures that love tragedy and sop up sad stories? When you’re going through cancer, you may need to scream this song out after a few visits from these types. Most moving lyric in the song? “I’M NOT DEAD!” Shout it out.
I’m not dead just floating
Underneath the ink of my tattoo
I’ve tried to hide my scars from you
I’m not scared just changing
“Unstoppable” – Rascal Flatts
Cancer isn’t going to stop you. It might stop you from cooking meals for your family or hanging out with friends for a while. That’s okay. But it’s not going to stop you from being you. No matter what you may be facing or how battered you’ve become during your fight, keep on dreaming, that’s the message to get here:
You, you can weather any storm
Don’t you know that you were born to win
Oh you find a helping hand when you need it most
A lighthouse shining on the coast that never goes dim
When your back’s against the wall
When you stumble and you fall
You find your faith has been lost and shaken
Here’s your chance and it’s worth taking
Get on your knees and dig down deep
You can do what you think is impossible
Keep on believing, don’t give in
You’ve got the strength to raise the wind
Remember what one dream can do
You are unstoppable
“I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
Too cheesy? Maybe. But come on, you know love to belt it out too! As you might already know, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is technically about finding strength following a difficult breakup. However, we’re not worried about the details, just the emotion of the song in this case. And goodness, it invoke a powerful emotion for many listeners! It can be a great song for women going through any tough time. Plus, it would make for a fun dance and lip-sync break whenever your may need it.
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh, no, not I
I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive
“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley
Stress and worry clouding your judgment? Anxiety taking over? Cancer can do that to you, but perhaps it’s time for some Bob Marley therapy. Remember, worrying won’t improve the facts, so let yourself sway to these upbeat words:
Don’t worry about a thing,
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin’: don’t worry about a thing,
Cause every little thing gonna be all right!
“What’s Up?” – Pink
Besides the fact that when you’re going through breast cancer, it seems incredibly appropriate and satisfying to shout out “Hey hey, what’s going on?!” Other words from this song might also fit, such as, “25 years and I’m alive here still / Trying to get up that great big hill of hope.” Belt this song out and enjoy.
“Fix You” – Coldplay
I dare any cancer survivor or anyone who loves a cancer survivor to listen to this song without tears. It’s impossible. Grief is a part of the breast cancer journey. If you lose a breast, take the time to grieve it. This song just might help.
When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
“Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles
“Here Comes the Sun” is one of my personal favorites from The Beatles. George Harrison wrote the song after he decided to avoid a business meeting to visit his friend. His relief at the break from business and the arrival of spring inspired the lyrics. It can be a great song for finding the motivation to keep going. Even though things may seem to stay dark for a long time, you still know that light will be shining through any day.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
“On Top of the World” – Imagine Dragons
About to ring the bell to mark the end of cancer treatments? This is YOUR song. “Unstoppable” celebrates pushing through difficult times and enjoying that moment “on top of the world.” No, your cancer journey does not end when you ring the bell. Yes, the adjustment to life after cancer treatments is really, really tough, but… enjoy this moment. Ring the bell and be on top of the world!
‘Cause I’m on top of the world,
I’m on top of the world,
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile,
Been holding it in for a while,
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.
Did we forget any cancer songs of hope?
We hope you enjoyed our list! What are your go-to songs for this cancer journey? We’d love to hear and share with others. Tell us below in the comments.
If you’re wanting all the above breast cancer songs in a single playlist, we’ve put them all together on YouTube here. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Survivorship Stories & Inspiration or Breast Cancer Memes for pages full of inspiring stories and quotes. Also, our YouTube channel is full of women sharing their stories. If you’re in need of a good laugh, one of our most shared articles ever is Mammogram Memes.
Originally published 10/15/2016, updated and republished 8/1/2018.