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20+ Cancer Strength Quotes to Inspire

When you or someone you know is dealing with cancer, inspirational quotescommunity platforms where you can share your experience and learn from others, or cancer fighting meditations can all wake up your courage, optimism, and the will to persevere. To get you started, here are some inspirational cancer strength quotes from renowned athletes, martial artists, military heroes, and writers who all know a thing or two about how to live your life with strength and fortitude. 

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! 

                        -Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)

Cancer strength quotes from professional boxers

Why We Love These: Who better to look to for ways to summon strength than athletes who have made an art form out of training their minds and bodies to work together? 

Muhammad Ali is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. As a 3x heavyweight champion he defeated some of the best boxers in the history of the sport. While Muhammad Ali’s boxing skills were incredible, he’s also known for being a free spirit and having the courage to speak his mind even when his ideas were unpopular.

1.     “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.” 

Muhammad Ali

2.     “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” 

Muhammad Ali

Manny Pacquiao is a renowned professional boxer, ranked # 2 on ESPN’s list of top pound for pound boxers of the past 25 years Some people argue that he is the greatest boxer of all time. He is currently a Senator in the Philippines, having moved on to a life of politics. 

3.     “Sometimes I don’t feel good, but when you get in the ring, you can’t say “oh, I feel bad, can we stop?” 

– Manny Pacquiao

4.      “Thank you to every person who has told me I can’t. You are just another reason I will.” 

– Manny Pacquiao

5.     “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.

 – Jack Dempsey

Mike Tyson is one of the most competitive fighters of all time, and subsequently one of the most dominant world champions in history. With this quote, Tyson reminds us that most of his victories were won with perseverance and a mindset of optimism. 

6.     “You never lose until you actually give up.”

-Mike Tyson

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Cancer strength quotes from martial artists and eastern philosophy

Why We Love These: Like boxers, martial artists tune their minds to an attitude of strength. In addition to cultivating a strong fighting stance, many martial arts traditions dip into Eastern Philosophy to promote spiritual stamina. 

Aside from a martial artist, and actor, Bruce Lee was a philosopher. People around the world have been inspired by his Jeet Kune Do style of martial arts and collected essays on his philosophies of life.

7.     “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.”

– Bruce Lee

8.     “Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”

– Bruce Lee

Eastern philosophy is also a place where people look for inspiring ideas, quotes and maxims.

9.     “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” 

– Japanese Proverb

10.  “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”

Confucius

11.  “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Lao Tzu

Cancer strength quotes from military strategists

Why We Love These: Generals and military strategists often have to inspire entire armies, nations, and allied forces to work towards victory. Their words can be applied to any situation where you face an uphill battle.

George Kennan was the American diplomat who did more than any other envoy of his generation to shape United States policy during the cold war. He was also one of the groups of foreign policy elders known as “The Wise Men“.

12.  “Heroism is endurance for one moment more”

George F. Kennan

One of the most influential leaders in history, Winston Churchill shaped Allied strategy during World War II.

13.  “If you’re going through hell, keep going!” 

― Winston Churchill

As a four-star general and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell has received 11 military decorations, including the Legion of Merit. As the first African American Secretary of State, his achievements have inspired a generation of leaders.

14.  “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

― Colin Powell

General Patton was one of America’s greatest generals who fought in both World Wars and was instrumental in winning World War II.  

15.  “The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.” 

― George S. Patton Jr.

16.  “Pressure makes diamonds.” 

― George S. Patton Jr.

Cancer strength quotes from writers and artists 

Why We Love These: Writers and artists are often articulate speakers for people looking for uplifting ideas. 

17.   “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” 

Melchor Lim

18.  “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

19.  “The best way out is always through.” 

–Robert Frost

20.  “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

Walter Elliot

Choosing cancer quotes

Whether you find inspiration from people whose job it is to fight for a living, athletes like Jim Valvano who publicly battled cancer, breast cancer survivors, inspirational writers, or great military strategists, quotes about strength can help you find a positive outlook.  

Keep these quotes handy for a quick burst of inspiration, use them to open or close letters to a friend facing cancer, or share them on social media to create strength inside your own community. 

Click here for more healing words, gifts, and resources for people living with cancer, and free tools for organizing emotional, physical, and financial support.   

 “When you feel like hope is gone

Look inside you and be strong

And you’ll finally see the truth

That a hero lies in you

– Mariah Carey 


Information provided here is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare team for advice tailored to your personal diagnosis and treatment.

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10 “Fighting Cancer” Poems to Fuel Confidence

fighting cancer poems

There is something wonderful in poetry that goes beyond just the meaning of the words. Constructed with artful devices like rhyme, wordplay, repetition, and creative placement of punctuation, poetry taps into our innate response to rhythm and sound. As such, it’s no surprise that people facing cancer look for cancer fighting poems to boost their confidence and hopefulness.

Poetry is similar to music and is part of our history, found in the hymns and chants that define cultural traditions. And like music, it can inspire the imagination and serve as inspiration for a reflective, contemplative, and daydreaming brain. 

Studies have shown that poetry can stimulate the same parts of our brains that respond to meditation or a beloved piece of music. So, whether you read a poem aloud or read it to yourself in a private moment, poetry can stir up strong emotions and deepen cognitive response more than other forms of writing.

How Fighting Cancer Poems Can Inspire Us

For people with cancer, a poem can provide, inspiration, a sense of connection, or simply a welcome opportunity to refocus the mind away from anxiety. Here are 10 of our favorite “fighting cancerpoems to fuel confidence:

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1. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Beloved American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry. Furthermore, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and more than 50 honorary degrees.  

Why we love this fighting cancer poem: This poem is about hope and determination in the face of adversity. It is a celebration of the human spirit and has a playful empowering attitude.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 

Why are you beset with gloom? 

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 

Bowed head and lowered eyes? 

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise

2. “Good Timber” by Douglas Malloch

Known as “The Lumberman’s Poet”, Douglas Malloch lived in Michigan where he grew up amongst logging camps and lumberyards.

Why we love this fighting cancer poem: Inspired by Malloch’s life amongst trees, this poem shows that people, like trees, grow and reach their true potential by experiencing life’s challenges.

Good timber does not grow with ease,

     The stronger wind, the stronger trees,

The further sky, the greater length,

     The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

     In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth

     We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

     Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

     This is the common law of life.

3. “Barter” by Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale’s poetry centered on a woman’s changing perspectives on beauty, love, and life. Moreover, she won the first Columbia Poetry Prize in 1918, a prize that would later be renamed the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Why we love this poem: This poem is about seeing the beauty in life and finding a balance between hard moments and rewarding ones.

Life has loveliness to sell,

All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children’s faces looking up

Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,

Music like a curve of gold,

Scent of pine trees in the rain,

Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit’s still delight,

Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,

Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace

Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be.

4. “Desiderata-Words for Life” by Max Ehrmann

In his most famous poem, Desiderata, early 20th-century American poet and philosopher Max Ehrmann encourages us to be loving and compassionate to ourselves.

Why we love this poem: This poem is a gentle affirmation of everyone’s special place of belonging in the world. It has encouragement, advice — and most of all — compassion for the human condition.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy. 

5. “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Guest

Edgar was called the poet of the people and was well known to audiences through his syndicated newspaper columns, radio, and TV shows about American life. In addition, he published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 11,000 poems.

Why we love this poem: The theme of courage in the face of overwhelming odds is a timeless affirmation for anyone going through tough times.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done 

      But he with a chuckle replied 

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one 

      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried. 

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin 

      On his face. If he worried he hid it. 

He started to sing as he tackled the thing 

      That couldn’t be done, and he did it! 

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that; 

      At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat 

      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it. 

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin, 

      Without any doubting or quiddit, 

He started to sing as he tackled the thing 

      That couldn’t be done, and he did it. 

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, 

      There are thousands to prophesy failure, 

There are thousands to point out to you one by one, 

      The dangers that wait to assail you. 

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin, 

      Just take off your coat and go to it; 

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing 

      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

6. “Hope” by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson published only eight poems in her lifetime. Today her nearly 2,000 succinct, profound meditations on life and death, nature, love, and art make her one of the most original and important American poets.

Why we love this poem: This piece focuses on what hope truly means. It is the one thing that can be constant throughout any hardship, and it asks nothing in return

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

7. “The Guest House” –Jalal Al-Din Rumi

The great Persian poet teacher and mystic from the 13th century remains the best-selling poet in the United States. His poems are often excerpted as inspirational quotes which address life’s “big questions”.  

Why we love this poem: Rumi points out the paradox and peace of knowing you are both an individual and part of the collective.  And that darkness and light both have a place inside the human experience.

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of its furniture,

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent,

As a guide from beyond.

8. “Invictus” By William Ernest Henley

British poet and newspaper editor William Ernest Henley was a champion for other 19th Century artists like Auguste Rodin and Rudyard Kipling.

Why we love this poem: This poem about strength consistently ranks as one of the most inspirational poems of all time.

Out of the night that covers me, 

   Black as the pit from pole to pole, 

I thank whatever gods may be 

    For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 

    I have not winced nor cried aloud. 

Under the bludgeonings of chance 

    My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 

    Looms but the Horror of the shade, 

And yet the menace of the years 

    Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 

   How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate, 

   I am the captain of my soul.

9. “Character of the Happy Warrior” by William Wordsworth.

William Wordsworth was an English poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature.

Why we love this poem: This poem is a reminder of who you can become through generosity, tenderness, diligent learning, self-knowledge, faithfulness, humility and honor. It connects everyone to the “happy warrior” spirit.

Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he

That every man in arms should wish to be?


—It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought


Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought


Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:


Whose high endeavours are an inward light


That makes the path before him always bright;


Who, with a natural instinct to discern


What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;


Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,


But makes his moral being his prime care;

Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,

And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!

Turns his necessity to glorious gain;

In face of these doth exercise a power

Which is our human nature’s highest dower:

Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves

Of their bad influence, and their good receives:

By objects, which might force the soul to abate

Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;

Is placable—because occasions rise

So often that demand such sacrifice;

More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,

As tempted more; more able to endure,

As more exposed to suffering and distress;

Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

—’Tis he whose law is reason; who depends

Upon that law as on the best of friends;

Whence, in a state where men are tempted still

To evil for a guard against worse ill,

And what in quality or act is best

Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,

He labours good on good to fix, and owes

To virtue every triumph that he knows:

—Who, if he rise to station of command,

Rises by open means; and there will stand

On honourable terms, or else retire,

And in himself possess his own desire;

Who comprehends his trust, and to the same

Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;

And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait

For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;

Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,

Like showers of manna, if they come at all:

Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,

Or mild concerns of ordinary life,

A constant influence, a peculiar grace;

But who, if he be called upon to face

Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined

Great issues, good or bad for human kind,

Is happy as a Lover; and attired

With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;

And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law

In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;

Or if an unexpected call succeed,

Come when it will, is equal to the need:

—He who, though thus endued as with a sense

And faculty for storm and turbulence,

Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans

To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;

Sweet images! which, wheresoe’er he be,

Are at his heart; and such fidelity

It is his darling passion to approve;

More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—

‘Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,

Conspicuous object in a Nation’s eye,

Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—

Who, with a toward or untoward lot,

Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not—

Plays, in the many games of life, that one

Where what he most doth value must be won:

Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,

Nor thought of tender happiness betray;

Who, not content that former worth stand fast,

Looks forward, persevering to the last,

From well to better, daily self-surpast:

Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth


For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,


Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,


And leave a dead unprofitable name—


Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;


And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws


His breath in confidence of Heaven’s applause:


This is the happy Warrior; this is he


That every man in arms should wish to be.

10. “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work connects human beings to the wonder of nature and our place in it.

Why we love this poem: The image of geese in flight connects us to the timelessness of nature and uses a vivid recognizable description of birds to lift the spirit.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Selecting the Right Cancer Fighting Poems

Poetry is meant to be shared, read in quiet contemplation, spoken aloud, and revisited often. If you are caring for someone with cancer you might want to include a poem in a letter to lift their spirits or gift them with other inspiring reads and audio. Sometimes inspirational quotes or healing words can be lifted from within the body of a poem.

Reading poetry connects us to our essential humanity, and reminds us that we are not alone in the world. To get more uplifting ideas, resources, and the gift of community, sign up to Mend Together and explore our many online tools and suggestions for people living with cancer.

When someone suggested this topic for this article, I thought it would be the corniest thing ever; but I got convinced that this could be helpful to people. Poems are not usually my thing. I like non-fiction, some fiction, and especially sci-fi. I love reading about the future. I wasn’t actually able to read or watch TV during a lot of my cancer, so I just laid and stared at my ceiling. That is why we sell the bird feeder on the site, so you can watch the birds. But I was surprised that our writer was able to find such beautiful poems that were meaningful and helpful, and I wish I had thought of reading these.” – Lisa Lefebvre, Mend Together Founder/2x cancer “endure-er”

Mend Together’s free resources can help guide you and your loved ones during and after a cancer diagnosis. Whether you find comfort in sharing updates through the Community Journal, want to build a Cash & Donation Registry with helpful items after surgery, or you want to organize practical help using our Volunteer Calendar, these tools help you and your loved ones navigate the challenges that lie ahead. Start your free account today.


Kate Rigg is a cancer advocate and graduate from the Juilliard School in New York with an honors degree in creative writing from the University of Melbourne.

Information provided here is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare team for advice tailored to your personal diagnosis and treatment.

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What to Say: Healing Words for Cancer Patients

Cancer is a life-altering diagnosis that can leave everyone in its orbit at a loss for words. The challenge is to find the right words for the right situation. Healing words to say to someone living with cancer. Or healing words to promote a positive environment. And also, healing words to say to yourself when looking for a spiritual anchor during challenging times.

The Power of Healing Words

In the Bible, King Solomon testifies to the power of words to uplift and enhance in the Book of Proverbs: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a picture of silver”.

For centuries, people have looked to healing words for comfort, courage, motivation and affirmation during life’s most challenging moments. Whether it be words of prayer, meditation, motivational quotes, spiritual hymns and stories, or just a single word repeated over and over as a mantra. 

In Hindu meditation, the Sanskrit word mantra is derived from “manas” (meaning mind) and “tra” (meaning tool). This practice of repeating a healing word or phrase over and over is literally a “tool for the mind”. 

Both Gandhi and the Chinese Master Lao Tzu told us a that: 

“Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become character, character becomes your destiny…” 

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The History and Impact of Healing Words

A growing body of scientific research suggests that how we think and the words we use can play an important role in healing our body — or staying healthy in the first place.  Starting with a pioneering study in 1955 by the anesthesiologist Henry Beecher, the power of positive thinking has driven countless studies of the “placebo effect” whereby the body metabolizes good news and starts to heal. Opposite studies on the “nocebo effect”  have also sprung up whereby the body metabolizes ‘bad news’ and becomes sicker. 

Silencing “bad thoughts” and increasing “good thoughts” are encouraging benefits of meditation.  For the cancer patient or the caregiver, mindful meditation is a powerful, accessible tool to promote well-being.

Whether it be a guided meditation to listen to as a tool to soothe anxiety, or a mindfulness meditation where you focus on your own breath, moving meditations like yoga practice or other kinds of meditation specifically targeted to soothe different life challenges (like insomnia, chronic pain etc.) 

Using Words for Self-Healing

“Repeated words go directly to God, as prayers do. Repetition fills the mind with a deeper intention that can create a good effect.”—Deepak Chopra

Words can be used as a tool of self-healing. There are long traditions, both Eastern and Western, about repeating sacred words. Catholics repeat the rosary, Buddhists and Hindus repeat a mantra over and over. Many religions repeat specific prayers again and again. Beyond religion and cultural practice, scientific research has shown us that the repetition of single phrases or words can:

·       Improve memory and focus

·       Boost mood and well-being

·       Reduce Anxiety

·       Relieve fatigue

·       Increase self-compassion

How to Harness the Power of Healing Words

For a simple approach to harness the power of healing words, first pick a word or a simple phrase to repeat. This is called a mantra.  Practitioners of this form of self-healing suggest to begin by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position then silently repeating the mantra. Connect it to your own breath, saying it in your mind once on the inhalation, once on the exhalation. When random thoughts or feelings enter your mind, simply notice them, and then return to silently reciting the mantra. 

See if you can practice this for a few minutes a day. Many traditions suggest staying with one mantra for several months before switching to another to cultivate a sense of ease, focus, and peace. You can experiment with a different mantra each day until you find a favorite.  

Whether you are a caregiver or a cancer patient, repeating positive words as a daily practice can decrease anxiety and elevate calm and peaceful feeling in the human body. You don’t have to analyze the words or phrases too much, the repetition of the words trigger natural responses in the mind, body and spirit.

Here are some easy to repeat healing words and phrases for Mind, Body, and Spirit to get you started:

Healing words for the mind

·       Laughter

·       Yes

·       Sunshine

·       Sunrise

·       Wonder

·       Possibility

·       Open 

·       Joy

·       Beauty

·       “My life is full of joy”

·       “I am” 

Healing words for the body

·       Breathe

·       Strong

·       Powerful

·       Relax

·       Let Go

·       “I am Power”

·       “I am strong”

·       “I am calm”

·       “I am joy”

·       “I am peaceful”

·       “I am healing”

·       “I am beauty”

·       “I am”

Healing words for the spirit

·       Yes

·       Good

·       Happy

·       Wonder

·       I am present”

·       All is well”

·       I am loved”

·       I am love”

·       “I am here”

·       “I am spirit”

·       “I am”

Other ways to use healing words

An important shift in language is to consciously change to positive phrasing of thoughts

Instead of saying “I am not angry” which still invokes the negative, you can choose the same intent but pull into focus a positive idea with the same meaning like “I am at peace”. 

“I don’t want to be sick” can be replaced with “I want to feel well.” 

Tilting your thoughts and language towards positive momentum can help your mind and body orient towards healing. “I feel like crap” can eventually be expressed as “I am working on feeling better.” 

What to do when words are not enough

Sometimes when things are too overwhelming for words, reading the words of people who have gone through similar challenges, words of great writers and thinkers, and words of encouragement from great spiritual traditions can help replenish the spirit. Inspirational quotes can be used as affirmations to read before bed, or offered as reminders to a loved one that you are spiritually aligned with their cancer journey. Click here to see our top 20+ inspirational quotes for cancer patients, caregivers and their loved ones.  

If you are caring for someone with cancer, and words fail you, one of the most important things you can say is “I am here. You are not alone in this. I am listening.” 

In fact, sometimes the best thing to say to a person who has cancer is nothing at all. Listening is a powerful statement too. Better to let them yell, punch a wall, curse profusely, or whatever else will help. Listening to what your friend has to say without judgment, corrections, or trying to cheer them up words, and make sure they help them know you’ll always be there, no matter what. Knowing that someone has your back through the roller coaster of cancer treatment can be a great comfort.

Find the right words with Mend Together

“Kind words are like honey– sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”-Proverbs 16:24

To keep building your list of healing words and find more resources and tools to navigate the challenge of cancer click here to connect with the Mend Together Community


Kate Rigg is a cancer advocate and graduate from the Juilliard School in New York with an honors degree in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. 

Information provided here is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare team for advice tailored to your personal diagnosis and treatment.

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Top 20+ Inspirational Quotes for Cancer Patients

Studies have shown that reading inspirational quotes can inspire a more hopeful and optimistic, frame of mind. Inspirational quotes for cancer patients can bring moments of peace, a boost in morale, or a sense of comfort.

Whether you are a patient, a caregiver, or just someone searching for the right words at the right time, inspirational quotes can share wisdom and uplift spirits. Quotes can be a touchstone to return to over and over again as a guiding inspiration.

The power of affirmations

“My mother used to read a psalm a day when I was growing up. She said it brought her comfort and a sense of connection to something bigger than herself. I remembered this when I got my breast cancer diagnosis, and kept a few books by my bedside filled with positive affirmations from a variety of poets and traditions. My favorite was Rumi, but I loved all of them. It became my ritual to just flip through a book at random and land on some wonderful saying to send me to sleep.” –Michelle S.

Good thoughts only

“My parents came to stay with me because I had two small kids at the time. And in passing my mum had talked to the apartment manager. That woman was part of a quilting circle that sent quilts to people getting chemo. And without telling anyone they left a quilt on my doorstep and I was very touched. It had the words “Good Thoughts Only” embroidered on it, and inside the card there was a psalm “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” They didn’t even know me and they sent me these beautiful thoughts and it brought a LOT of light during a dark time. “Good Thoughts Only”. I was literally wrapping myself in good thoughts. It was a wonderful gift.” –Josee B.

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When looking for the “right” inspirational quote, you can check out trusted authors and known teachers like the frequently quoted Buddhist monk Pema Chodron or leading American spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson; or you can look for memoirs by people who have famously faced cancer like beloved journalist Joan Lunden

To get you started here are our favorite inspirational quotes to comfort, motivate and uplift you. Share these with all of the people in your life who have been affected by cancer. 

Inspirational Quotes for Cancer Patients

1. “There is a time for being ahead,

     a time for being behind;

     a time for being in motion,

     a time for being at rest;

     a time for being vigorous,

     a time for being exhausted;

     a time for being safe,

     a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching Chapter 29

One of the world’s most simple and beautiful philosophical texts is the Tao Te Ching by the Chinese philosopher La Tzu. It has 81 short “chapters” which are actually little poems and thoughts about the meaning of life. It is spiritual without being religious and speaks of the timeless nature of being. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of finding inner peace in the present moment and seeing the perfection of things as they are. It can be a wonderful place to look for inspiration. 

2.  “I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” 

– Anne Frank

While facing the most stressful and life altering circumstance of hiding with her family from certain death, Ann Frank demonstrated the ability to appreciate each of life’s precious moments, and ended up giving an incredible gift to the world, her diary.

3.  “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 

– Albert Camus

Camus was one of the French fathers of “existentialism” combining the philosophy of self-determination within his writings. The practical wisdom of Albert Camus often comes with a compassionate regard for human beings under the guise of a detached stance from religion and spirituality.

4.  “You can’t be brave if you have only had wonderful things happen to you.” 

– Mary Tyler Moore

Actress, producer, and philanthropist Mary Tyler Moore was most famous for embodying roles that challenged gender stereotypes. Her performances helped usher in a new vision of American womanhood in the 1970’s.

5.  “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” 

— Amy Bloom

Author and psychotherapist Amy Bloom sums it up for anyone struggling with their own imperfections.

Inspirational Quotes to Motivate Cancer Patients

6.  “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” 

— Rumi

You have seen quotes by Rumi on pin cushions, in yoga studios, acupuncture clinics and gift cards all over the world. This is because the 13th century Persian poet’s wisdom transcends culture and religion to go straight to the heart of being a human being. He was a prolific poet crafting everything from three-line droplets of wisdom, to four-volume epic poems — all tackling the deeper meanings of life. 

7.  “You are not born with a fixed amount of resiliency. Like a muscle, you can build it, and draw on it when you need it.” 

— Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook’s COO and #1 New York Times best-selling author of Lean In has also written a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

8.  “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” 

— Thomas Edison

He was one of America’s most prolific inventors holding a record for over 1,900 patents. The embodiment of resilience and motivation, he also famously said: “I have not failed. I ‘ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work”.

9.   “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 

— Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s first democratically elected black president. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of Apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. He spent 27 years imprisoned by the rigid Apartheid before serving as President and galvanizing the world issues like freedom and equality. He also famously said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

10.  “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” 

— John Diamond

This is one of the most frequently cited inspirational quotes for people with cancer and it is attributed  the award-winning English Journalist John Diamond who wrote about his journey with throat cancer in his weekly column at the Times. It is also the title of a book for newly diagnosed cancer patients by Canadian oncology doctor Robert Buchman.

Inspirational Quotes to Uplift Cancer Patients

It can be hard to maintain a positive outlook when you or someone you love is facing cancer. Use these uplifting quotes about grace, consciousness and beauty to center yourself.

11.  “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” 

— Oprah Winfrey

One of the modern forces behind the self-help movement, Oprah has long examined the writings and philosophies of all the leading teachers and masters of today, to have finally become one herself.

12.  “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it today.” 

— Peter Kuzmic

This is actually a tweet from the President of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia and Distinguished Professor of World Missions & European Studies. His twitter feed is filled with helpful observations about life, hope and grace.

13.  “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”  

— Rumi

We chose another one of Rumi’s amazing quotes because it echoes the visual metaphor of Kintsukuroi which appears throughout the Mend Together Website. 

14.  “Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” 

— Buddha

Buddha was an Indian prince who gave up his palace to become a spiritual sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BC. His philosophy ended up creating the religion Buddhism, which was focused on Finding a cure for suffering. His teachings often personify resilience and stick-to-it-ness, even in the toughest times.

Inspirational Quotes from Celebrities who have faced cancer

Sometimes the most helpful wisdom is from someone who has gone through a similar experience to your own. Use these quotes to help light your path and know you are not alone.

15.  “Optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use. You’ve got to get in the habit. It takes courage to believe the best is yet to come. It was a mindset. Part of it is remembering to focus on the fight, not so much the fright.  I also surround myself with positivity and positive people. I like watching comedies and just trying to keep a lightness.”   

— Robin Roberts, anchor of Good Morning America

16. “I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the day, accept help when you need it, and be grateful for every day you have. Each morning, I wake up and I am grateful to be on this planet another day to enjoy the things and people I love and hold dear to my heart.” 

— Olivia Newton John, actor, singer and philanthropist

17.  “Nobody wants to hear, ‘It gets better.’ But there’s a time in our lives for all of us, no matter what’s wrong, when we’re all in the fetal position, sucking our thumbs… all of us. The question is, What do you do when you’re down there? Some people tend to stay down there longer in that position, and some people stand up. Somewhere deep, deep, deep down in that place you can barely touch… that’s the place you have to find the strength to stand up. Because if you can raise yourself up, you have an incredible gift awaiting you. Because suddenly you are empowered; because you have strength now; because you realize that your life has margins… it’s to be valued and not wasted.”

— Hoda Kotb, anchor The Today Show

18.  “Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.”   

— Jim Valvano

Basketball coach and sports broadcaster at ESPN and inspiration for the “Jimmy V Award” at the ESPYs. This quote is from a famous speech given at the ESPY awards given while living with terminal cancer.

19. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone fight for you.”

— Stuart Scott ESPN anchor, as part of an inspiring speech at the ESPY where he won the Jimmy V award discusses his cancer diagnosis.

20.  “Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.” 

— Melissa Etheridge, rock star and entrepreneur

21.   “Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.”

— Michael Douglas, Oscar winning actor

Practical ways to make Inspirational Quotes work for you

There are many ways to harness the power of inspirational quotes on your cancer journey. You can:

  • Put them up on your bathroom mirror to see yourself “reflected” in wisdom
  • Share them on social media to spread positive vibes in your community
  • Make a basket filled with individual quotes on slips of paper to be pulled at random for a message from the Universe when you need a boost
  • Read them to yourself to calm the mind and focus your spirit
  • Write them in a journal as a prompt to record your own hopes and fears
  • Use them as a mantra or in meditation to soothe your mind and reduce stress

Managing stress and keeping a positive frame of mind is important when you’re dealing with cancer. Soothing words of wisdom, uplifting proverbs and quotes can help soothe the soul during life’s most challenging times. You can share these inspirations widely with anyone whose life has been touched by cancer, and check out more about how to use healing words and mantras here. To find more inspiration and resources click here to learn more about the Mend Together Community for people living with cancer.


Kate Rigg is a cancer advocate and graduate from the Juilliard School in New York with an honors degree in creative writing from the University of Melbourne.

Information provided here is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare team for advice tailored to your personal diagnosis and treatment.