Vol 14, No 4 (2020)
Brief communication
Published online: 2020-11-23

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The art of the possible – palliative care is the ultimate personalised medicine

David Christopher Currow12, Paul Kleinig34
Palliat Med Pract 2020;14(4):231-232.


How can we help people achieve their own goals with limited life expectancies? This is the “art of the possible”
in palliative care. Patients with a range of diagnoses are incredibly consistent in their expectations:
“please manage my physical symptoms (not as an end in itself and without affecting the clarity of my
thinking or communication) so that I can do the other things that are important in my life” – meaningful
time with family and friends, and physical independence for as long as possible. Each aspect of personhood
(physical, emotional, social, sexual and existential) is important at differing levels for every person as he/
she faces a life-limiting illness. Palliative care is the ultimate personalised medicine when we seriously seek
to address patients’ priorities.

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Palliative Medicine in Practice