June 10, 2013 12:00 PM

Like many a mom and daughter, Krista and Emma Stone bond over the silly stuff. “The Bachelor is our guilty pleasure,” Krista declares during a recent chat with PEOPLE. “We watch it and then talk about the girls!” Her famous child nods vigorously in agreement. “I love The Bachelor,” gushes Emma. But red roses aside, “it’s just spending time together,” she adds. “That’s the most special thing for us.”

Time is something they don’t take for granted. In 2008 Krista, a 53-year-old homemaker then based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer – an aggressive form of the disease that accounts for only a small percentage of cases each year and resists many standard treatments. “I was convinced I would die,” she recalls. “It was terrifying,” says Emma, 24. “Your life comes into sharp focus.”

At the time, the actress was just 19 and on the brink of stardom, thanks to films such as Superbad. The news made her want to “stop making movies,” says her mom. But Krista wouldn’t hear of it: “I said, ‘Then I’m not doing chemo.’ ” Instead Emma Skyped her mom from Hollywood and on visits home would go with her to treatment. “I’m sure, in private, Em lived in fear,” says Krista, who had a double mastectomy, 25 weeks of grueling chemo, radiation and seven surgeries. “But she stepped up.” Watching her mom’s ordeal “gave me a greater appreciation for her,” says Emma, “and all she’s capable of.”

Krista has more surgery ahead, but she’s thankful to be more than 4½ years cancer free. On May 21 she joined forces with Emma at the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation’s Peace, Love and a Cure fund-raiser in Cresskill, N.J. Watching her mom soak up the spotlight, Emma, who brought along boyfriend Andrew Garfield to cheer Krista on, was starstruck. “It’s incredible. She’s here,” she marveled. “And stronger than I’ve ever seen her.”


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