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Sharp Health News

From cancer patient to community leader

Sept. 28, 2016

From cancer patient to community leader

Snooky Rico, photographed in her salon in Chula Vista, shares a photo of herself during breast cancer treatment.

She felt it in her heart. Anamaria “Snooky” Rico’s journey started when she knew that something was not right with her left breast, even after doctors ruled out cancer after she complained of breast pain.

A woman of faith, the timing — more importantly, “God’s timing” — was all it took. While switching insurance plans, Snooky switched medical providers and finally sought a mammogram and biopsy. Several appointments later, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. During treatment, Snooky saw a need that guided her future life in serving the community.

Paying it forward
During a visit to the Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center to pick out a wig, Snooky — a practicing cosmetologist for more than 38 years — saw an opportunity to give back. As the owner of Rico’s on Third in Chula Vista, she opened her doors to provide services for oncology patients at no cost — including head shaving, haircuts, scarf-tying lessons and also serving as a wig bank through the American Cancer Society. This project gave birth to her nonprofit, Loving You Through It, offering a personal space as well as comfort for women to “see themselves again” as they undergo treatment and overcome the physical transformation as a result of its side effects. Year to date, Snooky has provided help to over 100 women in the South Bay and takes pride in reminding them who they are by offering her services.

Snooky’s advice
When asked what she learned and what advice she gives other women, Snooky shared three important tips:

  1. Do not procrastinate
    With a family history of cancer, Snooky’s initial mentality was, “no news is good news.” However, she says, procrastinating when you know something is going on with your body can ultimately lead to changes that are not good. She knew something was not right in her breast, and ultimately took the step to seek second opinions from her new providers, which may have saved her life.

  2. Take advantage of the services offered by your providers and seek additional resources
    After her cancer diagnosis, Snooky was assigned to a patient navigator who helped guide her through the many steps and helped connect her with nonprofit organizations that could provide financial assistance, wig fitting and other needs. She urges women not to be discouraged from a lack of understanding of the many resources available.

  3. Seek exemplary medical care
    Cancer is a difficult diagnosis to face. Snooky rates her care at Sharp as “exemplary,” as she benefited from The Sharp Experience. This experience has allowed her to encourage other women to seek this type of care and to pay it forward.

For the news media: To talk with Snooky Rico for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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