Cancer Warrior Playlist: 12 Songs to Play When You Need a Boost

If there’s anything that can instantly change our entire environment, it’s music. Have you ever seen a dancefloor erupt in excitement when the DJ plays the latest hit? Or do you suddenly get that burst of motivation on the treadmill when your shuffle finds the song with the perfect tempo? The power of music on our world is undeniable.

For cancer patients, music can play an important role in feeling understood when they are at their most vulnerable. According to a 2016 study, “Effects of Listening to Music on the Comfort of Chemotherapy Patients,” by the Western Journal of Nursing Research, patients who listened to music during chemotherapy experienced increased comfort levels, appetite, energy, and quality of life overall. Music can be therapeutic, encouraging and uplifting.

We know how hard the bad days are and how isolating cancer can be, so we decided to create a playlist to remind you to have faith and not give up – even when all seems lost.

“Shake it Out” by Florence + the Machine

“It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back

So shake him off…”

This song describes how our circumstances can drag us down, and the importance of knowing all we can be if we rise above them. Despite the fact that we tend to focus on the negative, Florence tells us that there is an opportunity to let go of it all for a little while. She acknowledges suffering, but talks about how special you are and your soul should never be swallowed up by darkness. Always remember to spend time with yourself so that you don’t lose the parts of you that you love the most when life is pulling you apart.

“This is Me” by Keala Settle

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me”

With every doctor visit, every medical bill, every piece of bad news, and every stressor in between, it can be easy to be minimized to feeling like nothing. This song is empowering and reminds you of how you are more than your cancer. Don’t hide your scars or shy away from loved ones because you’re afraid of being a burden. Remember that the cancer has not changed who you are, and that is your power. Stomp and scream and sing along with Keala Settle until you are 100% unapologetic.

“Don’t Give Up on Me” by Andy Grammar

“’Cause I’m not givin’ up

I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up

No, not yet

Even when I’m down to my last breath

Even when they say there’s nothin’ left

So don’t give up on me”

If you feel like fighting for yourself isn’t enough some days, use this song to remember everyone else you are fighting for. This person could be a friend, a family member, a partner, or your Mentor Angel. Despite whatever news you receive or if you feel like the odds are against you, the important thing is that you cannot stop fighting. You owe that loved one, and yourself, everything you have.

“Last Hope” by Paramore

“It’s just a spark but it’s enough to keep me going

And when it’s dark out and no one’s around it keeps glowing”

With cancer, there is so much apprehension and resistance to the experience. It can be easy to curl up and block out all the doctor visits and chemotherapy treatments because of fear. It is important to be courageous and let it happen. Focus on the one spark that lights up your world amidst the darkness.

“Running” by James Bay

“When you think you’re on your own

I’m still coming home”

This song describes the importance of having someone fight for you when you have nothing left. Many times when someone has cancer, this person is their caregiver. Caregivers, normally close relatives, friends or partners, must go through all the hardships of cancer alongside their loved one. They put in countless hours of time and effort to make sure they have the best quality of life possible. If you are battling cancer, show some extra appreciation for you caregiver. Tell them that Imerman Angels also provides one-on-one cancer support to caregivers, and that there is someone who has been in their shoes.

“In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes

“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

But I just can’t

It isn’t in my blood”

Our human instincts require us to want to survive no matter how easy it would be to simply give up. Despite how inspiring the song is, it begins with the words ‘help me’ to show that it’s okay to need help. All too often today, we all want to do everything ourselves and take on too much. Cancer really is too hard to handle alone, and there is someone out there to help you.

“Look Up Child” by Lauren Daigle

“Where are You now

When darkness seems to win?

Where are You now

When the world is crumbling?”

Look around you! You have been blessed with another day and been surrounded by beautiful things — nature, people, good feelings, so much to be grateful for. Too often, everyone buries their heads in their phones and avoids real connection. For cancer fighters, genuine connection is medicine for the soul.

“One Call Away” by Charlie Puth

“I’m only one call away

And when you’re weak I’ll be strong

I’m gonna keep holding on

Now don’t you worry, it won’t be long, Darling

And when you feel like hope is gone

Just run into my arms”

Imerman Angels was founded on the principle that one-on-one psychosocial support plays a critical role in the ability of cancer fighters, caregivers and survivors to navigate their cancer journey with hope and move forward. Your Mentor Angel is literally one call away. They want to be there for you to show support and friendship. This bond you create will be unlike any other, and will be specific to this experience that you feel nobody else understands. Building these relationship takes trust and courage to reach out when you need someone to save the day.

“I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers

“I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face

I wanna get better…

I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change

I wanna get better”

On average, 60% of those faced with cancer do not seek support from a third party entity. This song is very relevant to the people who think they do not need help or see the importance in trying to get better. Many people do not understand that how alone they are until they make a connection with someone who really understands.

“Carry On” by f.u.n.

“If you’re lost and alone

Or you’re sinking like a stone

Carry on”

This song acknowledges that you cannot avoid the bad times. You must simply carry on and focus on the good! People, no matter how hard we try, cannot refuse the inevitable. In the beginning of the song, f.u.n. tells us that we are not shining stars and that we will have bad days. However, by the end of the song, they contradict themselves and say that we are shining stars. It shows that our identity is not defined by our pitfalls.

“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson

“All we can do is keep breathing, all that I know is I’m breathing now…”

The future is totally unknown and there is so little that we can control. However, it is completely useless to focus on what we can’t change. We must only worry about what we can do here, now. Michaelson ends the song by repeating “all we can do is keep breathing,” like a mantra, like therapy, telling us to simply focus on our existence. The key to staying grounded in times of much uncertainty is to remain present and not be swept away by our fears.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

“Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun, and I say

It’s all right”

This classic reminds us that every day is such a gift. The sun has risen again and we get to spend another day with the ones we love. With cancer, everyday is not guaranteed and it is important to remember how precious another sunrise is.

Visit our Spotify profile to find our playlist, Songs to Play When You Need a Boost!

Source: bilgiç, şebnem & Acaroğlu, Rengin. (2016). Effects of Listening to Music on the Comfort of Chemotherapy Patients. Western Journal of Nursing Research. 39. 10.1177/0193945916660527.

Source: Derogatis, L. R. “The Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders among Cancer Patients.” The Journal of the American Medical Association 249.6 (1983): 751-57]