It’s been “five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes,” or, one year, since Steve “Scuba Steve” Johnson rode in the Long Beach St. Patrick’s Day parade. On Saturday, he would be making the ride down Jeff Davis Avenue and around the Harper McCaughan Town Green. But there was was different about Johnson at Saturday’s parade.
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He arrived to the Town Green early Saturday morning to set up his Scuba Steve Clothing Company pop-up shop. The day offered an abundance of sunshine, but also a slight chill in the air, especially when the wind would gust. And although it was hours before the start of the parade and his shop didn’t open until 10 a.m., people were already stopping by Johnson’s booth to wish him well and to give him a hug.
“I’m really excited about riding in the parade today,” he said. “This is the second year I’ve done it.”
He said he will never forget participating in the 2016 parade. It was during a dark time in his life, as he had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015.
“Last year, I rode in the parade two days before I had a life-saving surgery in New Orleans, so there was a lot of emotion and a lot of uncertainty — it was a sendoff to New Orleans,” he said. “But the big change this year is that I made it through all of that and I’m cancer free.”
Early detection could save you from going though what I went through, which was the worst thing ever.
Scuba Steve Johnson
But that doesn’t mean he is the same person physically that he was a year ago.
“After the surgery, I had a colostomy bag for nine months,” he said. “Nothing has been the same since I was here for the parade last year — I think that was the most normal I would ever be again.
“Things are much different — I’ve been through a lot and my body is not the same as it was a year ago, but I’m alive.”
March is colorectal cancer awareness month and Johnson said early diagnosis is key.
“I was misdiagnosed in the beginning, so it could have been caught at stage 1 instead of stage 3,” he said. “Early detection could save you from going though what I went through, which was the worst thing ever.
“But I’m also alive and that shows you can beat cancer, too.”