- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Palliative care
- Key questions about palliative care
- Does palliative care mean I will die soon?
Does palliative care mean I will die soon?
Palliative care aims to maintain quality of life for people with a life-limiting illness. It is about living in a way that is meaningful to you, within the constraints of your illness. It’s not simply about dying. One reason that some people don’t access palliative care services early – or at all – is because they fear that it means they have given up hope or are going to die soon. This is certainly not the case for everyone referred to palliative care.
Depending on your needs, you may use palliative care services occasionally or you may use them continuously for a few weeks or months. The number of people receiving palliative care for several years is increasing. This is because improved cancer treatments can sometimes stop or slow the spread of advanced disease and relieve side effects for a number of years, and the cancer may be considered a chronic (long-lasting) disease. You can have palliative care while still having active treatment for the cancer. There is no need to wait until the end of life.
The reality is that some people do die from cancer. As people draw closer to death, the end-of-life aspect of palliative care becomes important.
There is still a life to be lived and pleasures to be found and disappointments to be had. Living with advanced cancer is a different life, not just a journey towards death.
Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director, Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer & Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, NSW; Richard Austin, Social Worker, Specialist Palliative Care Service, TAS; Sondra Davoren, Manager, Treatment and Supportive Care, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; A/Prof Brian Le, Director of Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Cathy McDonnell, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Concord Centre for Palliative Care, Concord Hospital, NSW; Natalie Munro, Team Leader, PalAssist, QLD; Penelope Murphy, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Kate Reed, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Merrilyn Sim, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. We particularly acknowledge the input of Palliative Care Australia and their permission to quote from €œBrian’s Story €_x009d_ in A Journey Lived – a collection of personal stories from carers (2005).
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
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