Scuba Steve almost feels like himself again, thanks to South Mississippi

Steve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, is hoping that doctors tell him he’s cancer-free after finishing a six-month stint of chemotherapy in October.
Steve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, is hoping that doctors tell him he’s cancer-free after finishing a six-month stint of chemotherapy in October. amccoy@sunherald.com File

After a busy weekend, Steve “Scuba Steve” Johnson slept in on Monday, waking in the afternoon and ordering a pie from Domino’s Pizza.

The iconic Coast clothier finished a six-month stint of chemotherapy in October, and he spent last weekend in his element — under a tent in downtown Ocean Springs, hugging every person who walked past at the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival.

“It was so amazing,” Johnson said. “Everybody came out, even people I haven’t seen in years. It was more people than I could keep up with. It was just the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in person.”

Johnson was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year and has since undergone radiation therapy and surgery to remove a tumor and lymph nodes. He underwent surgery in New Orleans in March, and left the hospital with an ileostomy bag. Most recently, he found himself at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport three days every two weeks for chemotherapy.

The rounds of chemo, he said, were tough. He lost 30 pounds.

“It made me really sick. Toward the end, smells were getting to me. Even the smell of my grandma’s car when she would take me would make me throw up,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he is still very tired and cannot be out in the sun for long periods of time, but he’s been feeling more like himself. He’s gained weight and has been eating at all of his favorite restaurants. He said as his appetite returned, he made a trip to one of his favorite places — Taco Sombrero.

Regardless of the pretty intense sunburn he has from being out in the sun all weekend at the festival, Johnson said he couldn’t help stay out there from morning until sunset, talking with people and catching up with customers, friends and social media followers he had never met in person.

“It was so much fun. I wish it was three days,” Johnson said. “But my feet think otherwise. I pushed myself way harder than I should have.

“It felt like old times, times 10.”

Johnson’s life has changed drastically since he was diagnosed with cancer. He said he maps out his day according to bathroom access. And he can’t be always on the go like he used to. He gets tired easily and needs to rest.

Aside from that, though, Johnson has high hopes that he’s on the road to remission.

He finished two tests last week — to see how everything is healing and scan for lingering cancer.

Depending on one of the tests, Johnson may undergo surgery to reverse the bag, and that will let him use the restroom freely again.

Johnson said that friends, family and social media followers have really helped him trek ahead in the fight against cancer. On Saturday night, he’ll be at Blaylock Park in Wiggins. Stone High student Carlie Prescott has organized a 5K Glow Run honoring Scuba Steve as her senior project.

The run starts at 6 p.m. and registration starts at 5 p.m. The cost to participate is $25 the day of the race, but people who register earlier online will receive a discount.

“This was a surprise for me, and It’s incredible and really cool,” Johnson said.

Looking ahead, Johnson said he’s ready to be cancer-free and start doing events on the weekends again to promote his popular T-shirt line.

Earlier this year, he created election shirts that were very popular. He said he sold more T-shirts supporting Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton, but he said that was expected.

He said he saw some people wearing their shirts at the festival over the weekend.

Johnson said he plans on going out to vote Tuesday, although he chose to not say who he was voting for. He’ll spend the rest of the day folding shirts and getting ready for Prescott’s event.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J