Our aim is to explore patients' experiences of using medicines when they are living with far-advanced cancer and short life expectancy; our method is a qualitative interview study. At a daycare centre at a palliative clinic in Norway, we interviewed 15 patients with advanced incurable cancer with multiple metastases who had a short life expectancy. We found that in taking their medications, they feared losing control, becoming addicted, or suffering harmful effects. Non-compliance was the rule, not the exception: patients juggled doses or dosage intervals, or they stopped taking the medications. They wanted to take as little medication as possible and self-manage it to gain control over their lives. We concluded that patients need to discuss their medication practice. If they choose alternative medication strategies, that choice must be respected. For patients, the issue is self-management, not compliance. Patients with a short life expectancy want to negotiate their medication practice with health care professionals and take an active role in tailoring it to suit their preferences. Health professionals should therefore consider a concordance rather than a compliance model for these patients.