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Emily Kowalski is a terminal cancer patient who is being treated aboard Galactica.
She is the only survivor of her family, as her husband and children died during the Fall of the Twelve Colonies. She also outlives her sister, Kathy, who died when Kowalski was twelve, and her parents.
After the First Exodus, she discovers that she has cancer that spread to her liver, thus entering its terminal stage. Unable to treat the cancer, she remains in Galactica's sickbay in order to keep her as comfortable as possible.
Roslin first meets Kowalski, but the two get off on the wrong foot after she attempts to turn off a wireless receiver broadcasting Gaius Baltar's religious dogma. However, Roslin and Kowalski bond, discussing matters of their mortality and faith.