Harrison County

Scuba Steve battled cancer for 2 years. Now, he has reason to celebrate.

If you’re friends with Steve “Scuba Steve” Johnson on Facebook, make sure you wish him happy birthday Sunday. This year, Johnson said, he has a huge reason to celebrate.

On Friday, doctors told the T-shirt designer and South Mississippi icon that the colorectal cancer he was diagnosed with in August 2015 was no longer inside of his body. Scuba Steve is cancer-free.

“I feel the most normal I’ve ever felt since pre-2014,” Johnson said on Sunday. “It feels so good, man.”

Johnson said he began bleeding through his clothes in March of 2014 and began wearing dark pants all the time so people wouldn’t be able to see the stains. He went to the doctor in November of that year but was not diagnosed with cancer. He was in crippling pain in March 2015 and was diagnosed with cancer four months later.

Johnson underwent radiation therapy that burned his skin and groin and also went through rounds of chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer.

He’s also gone under the knife several times to remove tumors and receive an Ileostomy bag. Two weeks ago, Johnson said a final surgery reversed the bag, so he can know use the bathroom normally again.

“No more bag — I’m always checking to see if my bag is full,” he said. “It feels good wearing clothes because it’s not sticking out.”

Johnson said he still has a ways to go on his health journey, though.

“Whatever I eat goes straight through me (since surgery),” Johnson said, so it’s hard to eat at restaurants because he has to go straight to the bathroom. Doctors told Johnson his colon would adapt in about a year and start storing waste more efficiently, though.

For the past two years, South Mississippi watched Scuba Steve on social media as he fought his way to remission. His friends, family and the community are what kept Johnson going, he told the Sun Herald in previous interviews. Several local businesses held fundraisers and gave donations to Johnson to help cover medical expenses.

During radiation, it was hard for Johnson to walk, and chemotherapy made him weak, so he had to take time off from getting out into the community to sell T-shirts and give bear hugs. That’s something Johnson says he will look forward to as he moves ahead.

For now, though, Johnson will plan on becoming 100 percent healthy. He said Sunday that he hopes to feel well enough to head to Chuck E. Cheese to play games with his friends and to celebrate his birthday.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J