Single mom battles cancer–Komen steps in with financial aid

Malissa Winicki was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer when she was 41 years old. She was a single mother of an eight-year-old boy and living with her own mom at the time. Malissa tested positive for the BRCA I genetic mutation, she had her breasts and ovaries removed to mitigate her increased risk, did radiation, chemotherapy and had five intensive reconstruction surgeries. During this time, Malissa’s mother was being treated for ovarian cancer and could no longer assist Malissa. That’s when Susan G. Komen San Diego stepped in.

“I was so stressed out and my mom was sick and I’m sick and I didn’t know what to do,” said Malissa.

The Komen San Diego Financial Assistance Fund provides financial aid for a breast cancer patients’ most critical needs during treatment. Komen San Diego also funds care coordination specialists who develop a care plan for patients to help decrease barriers to treatment and provide linkages to support services. Komen San Diego’s funded-care coordinators met with Malissa and brainstormed how she could get support for an upcoming surgery since her mom was sick and much of her family was living out of town. Komen paid for Malissa’s sister to fly out to San Diego to take care of her.

“Every time I was so stressed – my care coordinator had a way to help and make me feel better, whether I ended up using the services or not.”

Malissa also took Taxotere during her treatment and currently takes Femara—both drugs that saved her life were developed by Komen-funded research.

After a tumultuous journey, Malissa is now happily remarried and has a clean bill of health.

“I hope our story inspires women to learn their family history of cancer and get the genetic test if they are at high risk.”

If you or someone you know is battling breast cancer and needs support, please visit and connect with us.


The Komen San Diego Financial Assistance Fund supports:

• Copays
• Childcare
• Rent/mortgage
• Utilities
• Transportation
• Food Assistance
• Breast Prosthetics
• Lymphedema sleeves
• Post mastectomy bras
• Any breast cancer related medical device

To access Komen San Diego’s financial assistance fund, contact our fund administrators Jewish Family Service at 858-637-3210 or


In partnership with: