Facing a metastatic melanoma diagnosis produces a rush of feelings for everyone involved. But as a cancer-patient caregiver—taking care of someone who is considering YERVOY® (ipilimumab) or has already begun YERVOY treatments—you know your loved one’s depending on you. And that makes you strong.
What makes you an indispensable member of the team?
Being a cancer-patient caregiver involves a lot more than driving the patient to appointments and dealing with the household chores—necessary as these things are. Never underestimate the part you play as the patient’s champion with their oncologist and the whole healthcare team. Getting informed about the disease. Learning what’s available. Discussing and setting goals together.
Above all, it’s making sure your oncologist knows what’s important to you both from the start: what your treatment goals are, what motivates the patient. It’s taking notes at the doctor’s office and making sure to ask the hard questions—even when your loved one’s feeling too ill or too emotional.
Be part of the conversation from the start
You may not be sure what to expect from treatment. But you’ll want to make sure the treatment conversation happens—and happens right away. So the oncologist knows what’s really important to the patient, and to you.
Even after reading about the YERVOY clinical trial and understanding more about YERVOY, you might still have many questions.
Remember, the doctor is the best source of information about your loved one's health. But getting informed and making sure you and the patient are always part of the treatment discussion are the first steps in developing that important partnership you both need with the doctor.
If you hear something you don’t understand, ask for clarification. If you are told something you don’t feel comfortable with, question it. Some doctors may feel more comfortable with a certain treatment, but be sure to ask about all the treatment options. And keep your goals in sight.
How does a caregiver keep it all together for the one they love?
There's probably a lot of information you are trying to juggle. Here are some suggestions to help you stay on top of all the moving pieces.
- Agree on your loved one’s treatment goals and be sure to share them with your doctor
- Keep tabs on all appointments set up for your loved one
- Write down all side effects your loved one is having—and be sure to report them to your doctor right away
- Make sure all important phone numbers are handy
- Keep an ongoing list of any questions or concerns that you can show your loved one's healthcare provider
- Keep a list of all medications your loved one is taking
- Store all information in a journal like our Caregiver's Treatment Journal (PDF)
Take care of yourself, too
As a caregiver, it's important to take care of yourself so you can take better care of your loved one. Allowing yourself to recharge may also help you take a more active role in treatment decisions and planning along the way. Use the list below to get some ideas:
- Go for a short walk—it's a great way to exercise, and helps reduce stress. It is important to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise routines
- Give yourself a break—sit down, close your eyes, and listen to some calming music
- Take some time to visit your friends and recharge
- Let others help—whether running errands or making a meal, as a caregiver you should have people you can lean on, too
- Whoever said, "Laughter is the best medicine" got it right—try adding laughter to your day to help lift your mood
- Communication is key—whether you're anxious, stressed, or feeling guilty, sharing your feelings with someone helps