The power of music: our Shine cancer playlist

In this blog post, Shine Network Support Officer Neil shares some of the songs that helped members of our Shine community during and after cancer treatment.

At Shine Cancer Support, we know first-hand the difference that music can make when you are going through cancer treatment. When I was going through radiotherapy I banned the staff from playing their music (One Direction and Abba – not my cup of tea!) and played my own music instead to feel like I still had some control. After treatment finished and some of the real difficulties with my physical and mental health emerged, I found that music was the key to helping me deal with my emotions.


Blog post author Neil, who is not a fan of One Direction

After a few posts in our private Facebook group regarding music, we thought we might create a Shine playlist. These are the songs that members of our community feel have helped them. Hopefully there are a few gems here that you can uncover for yourself!

Katy Perry – ‘Roar’

Our Oxford Network Leader Sam said that this song helped her get up and about during recovery.

Coldplay – ‘Up&Up’

Angela said that her friend played it to her during chemotherapy and the lyrics make her very emotional – especially the last line. Listen for yourself and see what you think!

Mellah – ‘Cigarette Lighter’

Sean suggested this song, so I checked it out. It’s something a bit different and really worth a listen. I really like the line ‘I’ll keep walking’.

Sia – ‘Angel By The Wings’ and Jess Glynne – ‘I’ll Be There’

Hazel said that Sia’s music really helped her – especially this song, with the lyrics ‘You can do anything.’

“This is the one song I played repeatedly whilst undergoing treatment – the lyrics perfectly matched how I was feeling. it repeats ‘you can do anything’; she almost shouts the line out at the top of her lungs and it made me feel empowered. It’s just such a powerful, beautiful song.”

Hazel also listened to the Jess Glynne track ‘I’ll Be There’ a lot.

“It’s an uplifting song, great for singing along to and, whilst I guess it is meant to be about people being there for you, it actually helped me to feel I could support myself. After feeling let down sometimes by others during my illness and treatment, this song made me think ‘I’ve got my own back’.”

The Greatest Showman – ‘This Is Me’

Shine member Rachel found these lyrics apt, if a bit cheesy!

Foo Fighters – ‘These Days’

Joe said that this Foo Fighters song helped his wife. He encourages her to play it at his funeral as a message to anyone trying to tell her that things will be OK.

Soul Fly – ‘Fly High’

Shine member Neil thinks that this is a really positive song.

Elton John – ‘I’m Still Standing’ and Mary J Blige – ‘No More Drama’

According to Jacqui, her first song choice doesn’t really need an explanation! She related to ‘No More Drama’ a lot and would blare it out in hospital.

Avenue Q – ‘For Now’

Jenni told me that this song reminded her that whatever she is going through, it will pass.

Marconi Union – ‘Weightless’

Yulia recommended this track for some relaxation and meditation.

Rag‘n’Bone Man – ‘Human’

I picked this song from a long list of Jenny’s favourite music. It’s one that a lot of fellow Shiny folk could relate to!

Fleur East – ‘Girl On Fire’

Jo chose this song because it reminds her of a great friend and fellow Shine member who died.

Sara Bareilles – ‘She Used To Be Mine’

This song resonates with Karen, who relates this song to her feeling of becoming a different person after cancer.

RuPaul – ‘Champion’

Lauren had loads of song suggestions, but she really enjoyed blasting RuPaul at her treatment in hospital so I think that this track deserves a place on our list!

Keb Mo – ‘I’m Amazing’

Daniela finds this track really relaxing and highly recommends it for meditation.

Destiny’s Child – ‘Survivor’

Rosie has lots of favourite cancer songs.

“They’re all super cheesy but I don’t care! A few days after I was diagnosed, I took part in the Cancer Research Pretty Muddy race with one of my close friends who had been diagnosed a year or so before me and her team. It was touch-and-go if I’d still take part [in the race] because I knew it was going to be really emotive, but I decided to get over myself and do it anyway. As I arrived, before meeting up with the others, ‘Survivor’ was playing. Yeah, it made me cry, but it’s what I needed to hear at that time.”

Ben Howard – ‘Keep your Head Up’

Marbellys listens to this song when she’s feels down. Music has really helped her in training for a half marathon too, and this is one of the tracks on her motivational playlist.

P!nk – ‘Just Like a Pill’

Angela told me: “This is the perfect treatment song, and it reminds me of my lovely Great Escape crew belting it out together in karaoke.” Karaoke is part of the evening fun at our twice-annual Great Escape retreats – but don’t worry, there’s no obligation to sing!


At Shine we love a good singalong!

Bon Jovi – ‘Have a Nice Day’

Mike said that Bon Jovi’s ‘Have a Nice Day’ helps him when ‘the world gets in his way’!

Epica – ‘Delerium’

A great symphonic metal track, and Irene’s ‘it will all get better’ song.

Sia – ‘Unstoppable’

I think we can all recognise the helpfulness of this song – just like Shine member Liv, who nominated it for the playlist.

The Spice Girls – ‘Spice Up Your Life’

The Spice World – 2019 tour went on sale just as Joe was given his first chemotherapy date. The boppy, upbeat nature of the Spice Girls’ music really helped push him through the whole experience. This song took him back to easier times in life.

Florence + The Machine – ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and Bring Me The Horizon – ‘It Never Ends’

To finish the playlist, here are my two choices! I love the lyrics in the first song, especially ‘happiness hit her, like a bullet in the back.” I love lyrics, as shown in my next song choice. ‘It Never Ends’ is heavy and loud, and I listen to it on a bad day when I’m feeling down. The line ‘That I’m OK, that I’m fine, that’s it’s all just in my mind’ is one I can relate to a lot – especially with my day-to-day symptoms.


Fancy listening to all these songs? We’ve put together a Shine YouTube playlist just for you! Listen here. What songs would you add to our collection? Let us know in the comments.

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