As children at Patrick Air Force Base in the early 1980s, Kristen Emery and her siblings fished Florida’s Banana River and strung their catch on the back porch to eat. They dug up the backyard, muddying their hands. When they were thirsty, they drank tap water at their base housing.
Kristen’s nose bled all the time. She was in and out of the emergency room constantly with asthma or other illnesses from kindergarten through second grade.
“They just thought I was a sick kid,” Emery, now 41, says.
When puberty hit at 13, a large mass grew on her neck. The diagnosis was terrifying: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She spent her teenage years in chemotherapy.