Caring for a Loved One

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may be called upon to help take care of that person. If this is the case, you have become a "caregiver." There are many different types of caregivers. Some are family members, while others are friends or support group volunteers. You may be organizing day-to-day activities, like doctor visits or preparing food, or coordinating activities and care from a distance by phone or email. You also may be providing emotional and spiritual support.

What Responsibilities Can You Expect As a Caregiver?

Becoming a caregiver means becoming part of a team that includes doctors, nurses, patient care coordinators and other healthcare professionals. You may be seen as an advocate and important part of the support network for the person you are caring for. Some things you may be asked to help out with include:

  • Helping schedule doctor visits
  • Helping with daily needs, such as meals and errands
  • Taking on your loved one’s tasks
  • Learning more about cancer and treatment options

As someone who may be new to the role of caregiving, it’s important to get support for yourself as well as the person you are caring for. There are many resources and support organizations
available that can help you as you embark on the treatment journey with the person you are
caring for.

Click here for a list of support organizations that can help you get started.


How You Can Help Your
Loved One

Caregivers can take on many roles. These roles can change as your loved one’s needs change during
treatment. Some of the things you may be asked to do to help support them include:

Bridging Communications—As a caregiver, the patient may permit you to communicate to a larger community of friends and family about the patient’s condition by answering calls, sending emails or updating a daily blog to keep people informed.

Offer Friendship or Emotional Support—As a friend or family member, it’s important to provide companionship to your loved one. Making yourself more available during this time could be as simple as enjoying a meal together, or you could attend medical appointments, run errands, or help with household chores.

Working With the Care Team—Taking the person you are caring for to doctor’s appointments may be a big part of your caregiving experience. You may be asked to provide emotional support, but you may also get permission from the patient to take notes on doctor’s instructions, keep track of medications, and ask the treatment team questions to clarify diagnosis and treatment options.

It’s important to learn how to speak to a doctor and ask important questions.

Click here for some helpful tips and questions to ask the doctor during appointments.


Taking Care of Yourself

As a caregiver for a loved one with cancer, you should also consider how you are feeling physically and
mentally. It’s important to take care of your well-being and reduce your stress levels so you can be an effective
caregiver. Here are some ideas to help you take care of yourself as you take care of your
loved one:

Keep up with your own medical needs, including checkups, medications, and other medical needs.

Make sure you continue to eat and rest regularly.

Engage in exercise you enjoy under the advice of your doctor.

Make time for yourself. Stretch, read, watch television, or talk on the phone—whatever helps you to unwind.

Remember, as a caregiver you are trying to strike a balance each day by caring for your loved one while also keeping up with the demands of your family and work. Remember to reach out for support when you need it, so you can maintain a healthy mind, body. and spirit.

For more ideas on caring for someone with cancer, download the Advice for Caregivers brochure.

Would You Like to Share Your Story?

If you or a loved one is interested in sharing your
experience on treatment, call 1-800-685-4606.

Complimentary support, tools, and educational resources
for anyone considering or currently taking OPDIVO + YERVOY.
Call 1-855-OPDIVO-1 or click to

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SELECT IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT OPDIVO AND YERVOY

OPDIVO is a medicine that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system. OPDIVO can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become serious or life-threatening and can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended. Some of these problems may happen more often when OPDIVO is used in combination with YERVOY.

YERVOY can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment with YERVOY or after you have completed treatment.

Important Safety Information
for OPDIVO® (nivolumab) and
the OPDIVO+YERVOY® (ipilimumab) Regimen

OPDIVO is a medicine that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system. OPDIVO can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become serious or life-threatening and can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended. Some of these problems may happen more often when OPDIVO is used in combination with YERVOY.

YERVOY can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment with YERVOY or after you have completed treatment.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Lung problems (pneumonitis). Symptoms of pneumonitis may include: new or worsening cough; chest pain; and shortness of breath.
  • Intestinal problems (colitis) that can lead to tears or holes in your intestine. Signs and symptoms of colitis may include: diarrhea (loose stools) or more bowel movements than usual; blood in your stools or dark, tarry, sticky stools; and severe stomach area (abdomen) pain or tenderness.
  • Liver problems (hepatitis). Signs and symptoms of hepatitis may include: yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes; severe nausea or vomiting; pain on the right side of your stomach area (abdomen); drowsiness; dark urine (tea colored); bleeding or bruising more easily than normal; feeling less hungry than usual; and decreased energy.
  • Hormone gland problems (especially the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands, and pancreas). Signs and symptoms that your hormone glands are not working properly may include: headaches that will not go away or unusual headaches; extreme tiredness; weight gain or weight loss; dizziness or fainting; changes in mood or behavior, such as decreased sex drive, irritability, or forgetfulness; hair loss; feeling cold; constipation; voice gets deeper; and excessive thirst or lots of urine.
  • Kidney problems, including nephritis and kidney failure. Signs of kidney problems may include: decrease in the amount of urine; blood in your urine; swelling in your ankles; and loss of appetite.
  • Skin Problems. Signs of these problems may include: rash; itching; skin blistering; and ulcers in the mouth or other mucous membranes.
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Signs and symptoms of encephalitis may include: headache; fever; tiredness or weakness; confusion; memory problems; sleepiness; seeing or hearing things that are not really there (hallucinations); seizures; and stiff neck.
  • Problems in other organs. Signs of these problems may include: changes in eyesight; severe or persistent muscle or joint pains; severe muscle weakness; and chest pain.

Additional serious side effects observed during a separate study of YERVOY alone include:

  • Nerve problems that can lead to paralysis. Symptoms of nerve problems may include: unusual weakness of legs, arms, or face; and numbness or tingling in hands or feet.
  • Eye problems. Symptoms may include: blurry vision, double vision, or other vision problems; and eye pain or redness.

Getting medical treatment right away may keep these problems from becoming more serious.

Your healthcare provider will check you for these problems during treatment. Your healthcare provider may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. Your healthcare provider may also need to delay or completely stop treatment, if you have severe side effects.

OPDIVO can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Severe infusion reactions. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you get these symptoms during an infusion of OPDIVO: chills or shaking; itching or rash; flushing; difficulty breathing; dizziness; fever; and feeling like passing out.

Pregnancy and Nursing:

  • Pregnancy Safety Surveillance Study: Females who become pregnant during treatment with YERVOY are encouraged to enroll in a Pregnancy Safety Surveillance Study. The purpose of this study is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. You or your healthcare provider can enroll in the Pregnancy Safety Surveillance Study by calling 1-844-593-7869.
  • Before receiving treatment, tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if either treatment passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment and for 3 months after the last dose of YERVOY.

Tell your healthcare provider about:

  • Your health problems or concerns if you: have immune system problems such as autoimmune disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, or sarcoidosis; have had an organ transplant; have lung or breathing problems; have liver problems; or have any other medical conditions.
  • All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

The most common side effects of OPDIVO when used alone include: feeling tired; pain in muscles, bones, and joints; diarrhea; weakness; shortness of breath; decreased appetite; upper respiratory tract infection; headache; rash; itchy skin; nausea; cough; constipation; back pain; fever; and stomach pain.

The most common side effects of OPDIVO, when used in combination with YERVOY, include: feeling tired; diarrhea; fever; shortness of breath; itching; decreased appetite; rash; nausea; vomiting; pain in muscles, bones, and joints; and cough. The most common side effects of YERVOY include: tiredness; diarrhea; itching; rash; nausea; vomiting; headache; weight loss; fever; decreased appetite; and difficulty falling or staying asleep.

These are not all the possible side effects. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call . You may also report side effects to Bristol-Myers Squibb at .


Please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING regarding immune-mediated side effects, and Medication Guide for YERVOY.

Please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for OPDIVO.