Vivian Bearing, a demanding and uncompromising professor of 17th century English poetry specializing in the holy sonnets of John Donne, is diagnosed with advanced (stage 4) metastatic ovarian cancer. Being an academic, she treats the news with a certain matter-of-factness much like she would her own research. Indeed, her medical team – the renowned Dr. Harvey Kelekian and his fellow, Dr. Jason Posner, who happens to be an ex-student of hers – do treat her solely like a research experiment, with a “live at all cost” mentality. The doctors recommend an experimental treatment of aggressive chemotherapy, to which she agrees. In part out of her own choice but in part out of her own personal circumstances, she decides to go through the treatment alone. But as her treatment progresses, she wishes she had some more truly caring human interaction from people who see her as a person and not just a research experiment.