GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Steve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, has much to celebrate. Two years ago he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and given just six months to live.
But on Jan. 29, he celebrated his 33rd birthday just days after learning the cancer was gone. When Johnson - who fought a very public battle with the disease - posted the news to Facebook announcing he was cancer free, it garnered nearly 10,000 likes.
"It just felt good because I wasn't supposed to be this way. I was not supposed to make it past Jan. 29th, 2016. I was supposed to not make it to that point. The original doctor told me I wouldn't make it there. We went to work, we got to work hard. We got after it, and here I am," said Johnson.
Doctors told the entrepreneur that it would be a brutal and exhausting battle. But, the popular t-shirt designer never thought about backing down.
"I have so much more to do. I have so many plans in my head that if people could see it, they would be amazed. So, I didn't want that to be the last thing. I chose to fight," said an emotional Johnson. "We were going to fight so hard, and that's what we did."
Johnson underwent excruciating radiation therapy. Ingrained in his memory are the other men and women who were battling cancer alongside him.
"That was tough that those people are still struggling, and I'm doing so well. It's like survivor's guilt. It's tough to watch," said Johnson.
While Johnson was fighting for his life, friends and family kept his business afloat. The hashtag "ScubaStrong" became a war cry.
"What it means to me is never giving up and being stronger than the obstacle that's in front of you. Nothing can stop you," said Johnson.
The Gulf Coast was without a doubt Scuba Strong. People Steve had never met supported his business, and encouraged him along the way.
While he says he will never be able to thank them enough, he can offer some potentially life-saving advice.
"For me to go through this and do this, you can do it too. I mean, just get a check-up. It sucks, but it's totally worth it. For me, death was on the way if I didn't get checked," said Johnson.
Scuba Strong has returned to printing t-shirts. To check out designs visit https://shopscubasteve.com/.