Dimas’s Story

Striking out non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Dimas’s Story

Dimas has been following his dreams his entire life. As a child, he wanted to be a professional baseball player. He worked hard and was drafted by the LA Dodgers as a pitcher. After a rotator cuff injury ended his professional baseball career, he moved to Florida and pursued another passion, real estate. Along the way, he married the love of his life and had two wonderful daughters. Dimas is always sure to share his appreciation for these bright moments and to acknowledge the work it took to achieve them. What shows Dimas’ true character, though, is how he also finds ways to persevere and show appreciation for the very difficult times in his life.

In 2011, a short while after Dimas became a father for the second time, he began experiencing nagging pains in his chest and lower abdomen. Several months and numerous tests later, the doctors diagnosed him with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or NHL. Dimas was shocked. While he knew something was wrong, cancer had never occurred to him.

"They told me I was at stage four. I lost my grandmother to cancer, and I knew there was no such thing as stage five."

Dimas’ doctors planned for six treatments of R-CHOP, a type of chemotherapy used to treat NHL. Fortunately, he achieved remission within 4 treatments, but continued going to the doctor for regular check-ups. A week before Christmas in 2013, he went in for his last scan of the year. The doctor walked in, and Dimas could see it in his eyes – the cancer had come back and it was more aggressive this time.

Dimas and his doctors decided on the next step: an autologous stem cell transplant, which proved to be a long and difficult process. Before the transplant, he had to undergo ten days of strong chemotherapy.

"On day seven, I was so sick from the nausea. I was shaking, sweating, and in extreme pain. I remember laying on the bathroom floor, and for the first time in my life, I thought about quitting. But thinking about my daughters and family, I knew I had to continue. The miracle was that days eight, nine, and ten were the easiest ones."

A Curve Ball

After the stem cell transplant, Dimas achieved remission once again. He and his family went on a much-needed vacation to his birthplace of Puerto Rico. As part of a celebration of his health, his family took a boat to a bioluminescent bay to experience the water at night. Dimas dove in and, within seconds, he felt a sharp pain in his arm. He had been stung by a large jellyfish. Two days later, after flying back to Florida, Dimas was driving and felt like his seat belt was too tight. He felt around on his neck and found lumps the size of golf balls.

Worried that the jellyfish sting had caused a reaction, he immediately contacted his doctor, only to find out that once again his cancer had returned. They decided to give chemotherapy another go, but this time the tumors did not respond, and he needed a bone marrow transplant with cells from a healthy donor. His medical team began to seek out other options, only to come up empty handed – there were no matches for donor cells. Dimas thought he had run out of options.

A Change Up

Dimas stayed in close contact with his doctor during this time. After a short while, Dimas’ doctor shared with him that there was a potential opening in a clinical trial for autologous CAR T cell therapy, or CAR T for short. Together, they were able to determine that he met all of the requirements and was eligible for this trial. After confirming this, Dimas and his wife met with the physician directing the clinical trial. The doctor explained how the autologous CAR T therapy was designed to work. They would harvest Dimas’ T cells, send them to California to be reprogrammed, and when they put them back in his body, they hoped they would act like “soldier cells” to target the cancer. After discussing it with his healthcare team, Dimas dove in headfirst and was able to secure the last remaining spot in the trial.

"After all I had been through with NHL, I thought, ’all of the stars were aligned for this.’ I knew that participating in research could help others."

While Dimas waited for his cells to return from the lab in California, he underwent another round of chemotherapy to prepare his body to accept the reprogrammed cells. It was still an uphill battle as his health continued to deteriorate. Participating in the trial and receiving an investigational treatment was not without complications. A couple of days after receiving the treatment, Dimas had significantly high fevers that caused him to experience memory loss. He was not able to remember who his wife or daughters were, and he had to re-learn how to write and walk. Though it was another challenging time, the ever-tenacious Dimas pushed through with the support from his loved ones and healthcare team.

An Advocate

Dimas felt a calling to share his experience with NHL with others, encouraging them to continue to work with their medical team to seek out treatment options. He went on the road to talk to both patient and scientific communities to educate them about living with NHL and his participation in a clinical trial. He has spoken at conferences in the U.S., France, Spain, and the U.K. He also attended a Congressional briefing to encourage funding for research. Dimas continues to advocate for the NHL community by telling his story.

In May of 2022, Dimas proudly watched his oldest daughter graduate high school. He’s returned to his career in real estate and is taking up new hobbies like jiu jitsu, which keeps him in shape and challenges his mind. He and his family are building their dream home in Puerto Rico and looking forward to vacations there together.

"I am blessed to be an advocate for clinical studies. Now I get to share my story to bring awareness and educate others."

Every person’s experience with CAR T therapies is different. This is not intended to discuss or imply any information about investigational therapies not approved by the FDA and where safety and efficacy have not been established. Any questions regarding a medical condition, treatment, or decisions regarding whether to participate in a clinical trial should always be directed to a healthcare professional. Dimas has not participated in any CRISPR Therapeutics studies. Dimas was compensated by CRISPR Therapeutics for his time.


See below for a list of patient advocacy organizations for additional information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers. CRISPR Therapeutics provides these links as a resource but does not endorse specific patient organizations or their communications.

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