At the age of 48, she is diagnosed with stage-four metastatic ovarian cancer. Dr. Kelekian wants her to take eight high-dose experimental chemotherapy treatments for eight months. He warns her that she will need to be "tough" to rely upon large reserves of inner courage and willpower.
Vivian tries to remain tolerant as she suffers through questions and tests from technicians; "grand rounds," where she is prodded by medical students and treated like a specimen rather than a human being. Through her whole ordeal she has to face the loneliness of the hospital not to mention of grueling time spent in an isolation ward. She had no visitors, and the hospital was no place for fun. There is even a part in the movie where Vivian speaks about the dull and tedious hospital atmosphere. Most regrettably, through all of this she is dealing with the terrible side-effects of the chemotherapy; and then the pain of the still spreading cancer.
Through several flashbacks we gain insights into Vivian's life: an encounter with her mentor E. M. Ashford, who warns her to spend more time with friends; a special moment as a child with her father, who encourages her delight in words and their elaborate meanings; and several moments with students in need who were not treated compassionately.
Although Vivian has used her intellect and her dry wit as a shield to carry her through life, these are of little value in the face of death. She sees her reliance to concepts and her apathy to others mirrored in the actions of Jason Posher an ambitious clinical fellow working under Dr. Kelekian. He comes in and out of the movie and seems to...