Support Yourself and a Loved One

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may be called upon to help take care of this 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

Assisting 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 as a caregiver include:

Bridging Communications — When you are 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 or sending emails.

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 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 necessities.

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.

Taking Good Care: A Guide for Those Helping a Loved One

For more ideas on caring for someone with cancer, download the Taking Good Care: A Guide for Those Helping a Loved One brochure.

FULL INDICATIONS

For people with previously treated advanced non-small cell lung cancer

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with a type of advanced stage lung cancer (called non-small cell lung cancer) that has spread or grown and you have tried chemotherapy that contains platinum, and it did not work or is no longer working. If your tumor has an abnormal EGFR or ALK gene, you should have also tried an FDA-approved therapy for tumors with these abnormal genes, and it did not work or is no longer working.

For people with previously treated advanced small cell lung cancer

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with a type of advanced stage lung cancer (called small cell lung cancer) that has spread or grown and you have tried at least two different types of chemotherapy, including one that contains platinum, and it did not work or is no longer working. OPDIVO was approved based on response rate and how long patients’ responses lasted. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

For people with advanced melanoma

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with a type of skin cancer called melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma).

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab) to treat people with a type of skin cancer called melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma).

OPDIVO (10 mg/mL) and YERVOY (5 mg/mL) are injections for intravenous (IV) use.

For people with melanoma after it and the affected lymph nodes have been removed by surgery to prevent it from coming back

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with a type of skin cancer called melanoma to help prevent melanoma from coming back after it and lymph nodes that contain cancer have been removed by surgery.

For certain people with advanced kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma)

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab) to treat kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) in certain people when their cancer has spread.

OPDIVO (10 mg/mL) and YERVOY (5 mg/mL) are injections for intravenous (IV) use.

For people with previously treated advanced kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma)

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) when your cancer has spread or grown after treatment with other cancer medications.

For people with previously treated squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with head and neck cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) that has come back or spread and you have tried chemotherapy that contains platinum and it did not work or is no longer working.

For people with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) that have received treatment with Nexavar® (sorafenib)

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) after you have received treatment with Nexavar® (sorafenib). OPDIVO was approved based on response rate and how long patients’ responses lasted. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

For people with previously treated advanced bladder cancer (urothelial carcinoma)

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with bladder cancer (urothelial carcinoma) that has spread or grown and you have tried chemotherapy that contains platinum, and it did not work or is no longer working. OPDIVO was approved based on response rate and how long patients’ responses lasted. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

For people 12 years of age and older whose CRC has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), has progressed after treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan, and is dMMR or MSI-H

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab) to treat adults and children 12 years of age and older, with a type of colon or rectal cancer (colorectal cancer) that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), is microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR), and you have tried treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan, and it did not work or is no longer working. OPDIVO was approved based on response rate and how long patients’ responses lasted. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

OPDIVO (10 mg/mL) and YERVOY (5 mg/mL) are injections for intravenous (IV) use.

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults and children 12 years of age and older with a type of colon or rectal cancer (colorectal cancer) that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), is mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) or microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H), and you have tried treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan, and it did not work or is no longer working. OPDIVO was approved based on response rate and how long patients’ responses lasted. There is ongoing evaluation of clinical benefit of OPDIVO for this use.

For adults with previously treated classical Hodgkin lymphoma including an autologous stem cell transplant whose cancer has come back or spread

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with a type of blood cancer called classical Hodgkin lymphoma if your cancer has come back or spread after a type of stem cell transplant that uses your own stem cells (autologous), and you used the drug brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®) before or after your stem cell transplant, or if you received at least 3 kinds of treatment including an autologous stem cell transplant. OPDIVO was approved based on response rate. 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 12 years of age with MSI-H or dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer, or in children younger than 18 years of age for the treatment of any other cancers.

OPDIVO (10 mg/mL) and YERVOY (5 mg/mL) are injections for intravenous (IV) use.

Important Facts About OPDIVO® (nivolumab) and OPDIVO + YERVOY® (ipilimumab)

This is a summary of important information that you need to know about OPDIVO and OPDIVO + YERVOY. Your healthcare team can work with you to help answer any questions you may have about these medications. 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 are the serious side effects?

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.

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. Some of these problems may happen more often when OPDIVO is used in combination with YERVOY.

YERVOY can also 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.

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 and may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. If you have a serious side effect, your healthcare team may also need to delay or completely stop your treatment.

What are the serious side effects of OPDIVO and OPDIVO + YERVOY?

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
  • dizziness or fainting
  • 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

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

Nerve problems that can lead to paralysis — Things to look out for may include:

  • unusual weakness of legs, arms, or face
  • numbness or tingling in hands or feet

Eye problems — Things to look out for may include:

  • blurry vision, double vision, or other vision problems
  • eye pain or redness

OPDIVO can cause serious side effects, including:

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.

Stem cell transplant complications are possible if you receive donor stem cells (allogeneic stem cell transplant). These complications can be severe and can lead to death. Your healthcare team will monitor you for signs of complications if you have an allogeneic stem cell transplant.


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

Tell your healthcare team if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. OPDIVO and YERVOY 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 or think you are pregnant during treatment. You or your healthcare team should contact Bristol-Myers Squibb at
1-800-721-5072 as soon as you become aware of the pregnancy.

Enrolling in a Pregnancy Safety Surveillance Study is encouraged for females who become pregnant during treatment with YERVOY. The purpose of this study is to collect information about your health and the health of your baby. You or your healthcare provider can enroll in the Pregnancy Safety Surveillance Study by calling .

Tell your healthcare team 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.


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

Talk to your healthcare team about all of your health problems or concerns, including 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
  • have any other medical conditions

Talk to your healthcare team about all the medicines you take, including:

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

What are the most common side effects?

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
  • vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • constipation
  • decreased appetite
  • back pain
  • upper respiratory tract
    infection
  • fever
  • headache
  • abdominal pain

The most common side effects of OPDIVO when used in combination with YERVOY include:

  • feeling tired
  • rash
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • fever
  • pain in muscles, bones, and joints
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • itching
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • cough
  • decreased appetite
  • shortness of breath

The most common side effects of YERVOY include:

  • feeling tired
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • itching
  • rash
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • decreased appetite
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep

These are not all of the possible side effects. 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 www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.