While pursuing an independent research project as a premed at Cleary University, Mary Austin discovers a remarkably nontoxic drug that could change cancer chemotherapy as we know it. Her work is set for publication in a top tier journal until her mentors involve Dullahan Pharmaceuticals, a multinational pharmaceutical giant. Soon Mary finds herself mysteriously excluded from negotiations with the drug company, despite the fact that the project is entirely her work. Amidst egregious sexual harassment, sabotage, and finally death threats, her work becomes impossible. In response to her family’s pleas, she leaves Cleary and begins medical school at Whitehead College of Medicine, where she was accepted despite evidence her professors at Cleary tampered with her application process.
Years later, as a resident in pediatrics at Whitehead, she pours the story out to her brilliant and compassionate mentor, Dr. Daniel Taylor, who immediately allows her to leave residency for a period of time to recreate her work from Cleary. Her joy turns to horror and then determination when she finds out the following week that Dr. Taylor himself has just been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. She encounters roadblock after roadblock in the laboratory Dr. Taylor procured for her, and as he lies dying she finds out that in addition to these hassles, her drug stock has been deliberately sabotaged by the supplier the entire time she’s been working. The person who informs her of this laughs at her.
After Dr. Taylor’s death, none of the other doctors at Whitehead have any intention of letting her continue this work, nor leave the institution to work on it elsewhere. With no other ethical choice available, Mary gives up her academic career and sends all her work to a lab in another country. The story of her drug continues in the next book in the series, Abide With Me.