Vivian Bearing is a literal, uncompromising 17th century English professor, specializing in the sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic ovarian cancer. Being an academic, she treats the news as a matter-of-factness much like she would her own research. Her medical team, Dr. Harvey Kelekian and his partner Dr. Jason Posner, do treat her solely like a research experiment, with a “life at all cost” mentality. Dr. Jason Posner was a student of Vivian’s in the past and said she was a cut throat teacher who was well respected by others.
The doctors recommend an experimental treatment of aggressive chemotherapy, to which she agreed. Vivian decided to go through treatment alone but in time wishes she had more human companionship. When Vivian starts having various side-effects such as fever, chills, vomiting, abdominal pain, and alopecia, she starts putting everything into perspective. She periodically flashes back to her childhood, teaching experiences, and her career before her diagnosis. Throughout her treatment Vivian soon realizes the doctors at this point are just using her as a guinea pig and are trying everything and anything to keep her going. The only person who seems to care about Vivian is Susie Monahan, one of the nurses on staff. Vivian begins to understand that her treatment is not working and a lot begins to run through her head especially dying.
Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Dying
The first stage we witness is denial. Vivian tells the doctors to keep up the high doses of chemotherapy thinking she will be cured. She wants everyone to treat her the same and go back to teaching college. At the beginning of the movie Vivian was completely denying she was going to die, but the doctors that were working with her didn’t help the fact either. Both doctors made no emotional connection with Vivian and were delighted with the results.
Next, Vivian displays a... [continues]
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