There’s one name noticeably absent from NAILS’ 1998 Top 25 Competitors Ranking: Victoria Sozio. A veteran nail tech with over 50 competition wins to her credit, she had consistently placed on the Top 25 ranking in previous years. When NAILS caught up with Sozio the explanation for her absence for the competition arena was obvious. She was just out of the hospital after her third major back surgery in three years. Sozio’s woes began with a bad fall in 1996 in which she ruptured three discs in her back. In December of that year, she had a “posterior anterior lumbar fusion” procedure to remove the injured discs and replace them with cadaver bone and bone taken from her hip. Then the spine was welded together with metal rods, plates, and bolts. Weeks later she developed a life threatening infection in her spine requiring another surgery. Her most recent surgery, in January of this year, was to remove some of the hardware that has been causing her a great deal of pain.

Throughout her whole ordeal, Sozio managed to work off and on at The Upper Cut, her Washington Township, N.J., salon. “It’s very difficult when you have your own business. Either you work or you lose it,” She says. She also managed to compete a little in ’97 and ’98 and took time to assist other top competitors like Bu Domenech and Rita Horvath. But, she says, “I just couldn’t do it anymore.

You can’t concentrate when you’re in so much pain.” Sozio credits her family and staff with helping her through the tough times. “When you are faced with difficulties like this. It gives you a very special appreciation of life and just how precious it is,” she says. Sozio remains optimistic about her prospects for recovery and hopes someday to return to the Competitors Ranking—in the number-one spot.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.