For Patients With Metastatic Melanoma

Caring for a Loved One

Caring for a Loved One

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may be called upon to help take care of the person with cancer. 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 caregiver, 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 as a caregiver 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.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor 

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

Taking Good Care: Guide for Those Helping a Loved One

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. Call 1-855-OPDIVO-1 or click the button to learn more.

Sign Up Now


OPDIVO can cause problems that can sometimes become serious or life-threatening and can lead to death. Serious side effects may include lung problems (pneumonitis); intestinal problems (colitis) that can lead to tears or holes in your intestine; liver problems (hepatitis); hormone gland problems (especially the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands and pancreas); kidney problems, including nephritis and kidney failure; skin problems; inflammation of the brain (encephalitis); problems in other organs; and severe infusion reactions.

Important Facts About OPDIVO® (nivolumab)

This is a summary of important information that you need to know about OPDIVO. Your healthcare team can work with you to help answer any questions you may have about OPDIVO. Keep this information in a safe place so you can refer to it before and during
your treatment.

Look out for the following icons as you read:

  • Talk to your
    healthcare team
  • Call a healthcare
    provider right away
  • Helpful information
    to remember

What is OPDIVO?

OPDIVO is a prescription medicine used to treat people who have a type of skin cancer called melanoma, and who:

Have melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma).

OPDIVO is approved for both BRAF+ and BRAF- patients. OPDIVO was approved for BRAF+ metastatic melanoma patients based on the amount of time patients lived without their tumors worsening. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

It is not known if OPDIVO is safe and effective in children younger than
18 years of age.

OPDIVO is a medicine that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system. It can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way these organs work.

What are the serious side effects of OPDIVO?

A serious side effect is a side effect that can sometimes become
life-threatening and can lead to death. They may happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

Get medical help immediately if you develop any of these symptoms or they get worse. It may keep these problems from becoming more serious. Your healthcare team will check you for side effects during treatment with OPDIVO, and may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. If you have a serious side effect, your healthcare team may need to delay or completely stop your treatment.

Lung problems (pneumonitis) — Things to look out for may include:

  • new or worsening cough
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath

Intestinal problems (colitis) that can lead to tears or holes in your intestine — Things to look out for may include:

  • diarrhea (loose stools) or more
    bowel movements than usual
  • blood in your stools or dark,
    tarry, sticky stools
  • severe stomach area (abdomen)
    pain or tenderness

Liver problems (hepatitis) — Things to look out for 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
  • decreased energy

Hormone gland problems (especially the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands, and pancreas) — Things to look out for may include:

  • headaches that will not go away
    or unusual headaches
  • extreme tiredness
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • changes in mood or behavior,
    such as decreased sex drive,
    irritability, or forgetfulness
  • hair loss
  • feeling cold
  • constipation
  • voice gets deeper
  • excessive thirst or lots of urine

Kidney problems, including nephritis and kidney failure — Things to look out for may include:

  • decrease in the amount of urine
  • blood in your urine
  • swelling in your ankles
  • loss of appetite

Skin problems — Things to look out for may include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • skin blistering
  • ulcers in the mouth or other
    mucous membranes

Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) — Things to look out for may include:

  • headache
  • fever
  • tiredness or weakness
  • confusion
  • memory problems
  • sleepiness
  • seeing or hearing things that are not really there (hallucinations)
  • seizures
  • stiff neck

Problems in other organs — Things to look out for may include:

  • changes in eyesight
  • severe or persistent muscle or joint pains
  • severe muscle weakness
  • chest pain

Severe infusion reactions — Things to look out for may include:

  • chills or shaking
  • itching or rash
  • flushing
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • feeling like passing out

Talk to your healthcare team right away if you get any of the symptoms of a severe infusion reaction during or after an infusion of OPDIVO.

What should I discuss with my healthcare team about pregnancy and nursing before starting OPDIVO?

Tell your healthcare team if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. OPDIVO can harm your unborn baby. Females who are able to become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control during and for at least 5 months after the last dose of OPDIVO.

Talk to your healthcare team about birth control methods that you can use during this time. Tell your healthcare team right away if you become pregnant during treatment.

Tell your healthcare team if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if OPDIVO passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment.

What should I discuss with my healthcare team before starting OPDIVO?

Talk to your healthcare team about all of your health problems or concerns, including if you:

  • have immune system
    problems such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus
  • have had an organ transplant
  • have lung or breathing problems
  • have liver problems
  • have any other medical conditions

Talk to your healthcare team about all of the medicines you are taking, including:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • vitamins
  • herbal supplements

What are the most common side effects of OPDIVO?

The most common side effects of OPDIVO when used alone include:

  • feeling tired
  • rash
  • pain in muscles, bones, and joints
  • itchy skin
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • weakness
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • constipation
  • decreased appetite
  • back pain
  • upper respiratory tract
  • fever
  • headache
  • abdominal pain

These are not all of the possible side effects of OPDIVO. Talk to your healthcare team for more information. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-10881-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for OPDIVO, or talk to your healthcare team.