In the 1970s Buttons Kaluhiokalani stamped his signature on surfing. With 360-degree turns, a big afro, and a creative and innovative style he took the sport in a new direction.
"I wanted to try different things. So I kept at it, kept at it, kept on doing it. I was a kid. And at the same time it was fun," he said.
He had a lot of fun. But there were also wipeouts with arrests and drug abuse.
"I've overdosed twice and woke up," he said.
As a strapping younger man he weighed 175 pounds. He is now down to 142 pounds because his body is failing him.
'I'm on Four Stage lung cancer," he said. "Right now it's in the back of my back."
Stage Four means the cancer has spread. His wife says it's everywhere. The husband, father and grandfather is trying to remain positive.
"I have a surf school business. I have a beautiful wife, beautiful kids. I have a lot of support," he said.
Like he attacked the waves, Buttons is attacking cancer in his own way, through diet and homeopathic treatments.
"In this day and age people have healed from it. I'm not looking back. I'm looking out to get better. That's my attitude. It's going to be a journey but I'm excited. Oh, yes! Let's go! Let's do this!" he said.
Buttons finished first in surfing meets several times. The ocean was his playground. Now it's his refuge.
"Being around the ocean is something that heals you. It heals me," he said.
He said he's not afraid of dying, but his wife and family are why he's fighting for his life.
Supporters are holding a benefit fundraiser to help Buttons pay his medical bills. It will be on September 21 at The Fix at 80 S. Pauahi Street. Tickets are available at Surf n Sea, at the door, and at buttonskaluhiokalani.eventbrite.com.