Jessie Gifford knew that after-hours calls from doctors are never good. For her, though, things seemed to go from bad to worse in an instant, when a follow-up to a mammogram filled her life with words like ''biopsy'' and ''breast cancer.'' In an instant, Jessie's life changed. She became detached, feeling as if she has been betrayed by her body--as if she is watching all of this happen to someone else. She couldn't have cancer. She isn't prepared for the disease . . . but then, who is?

As Jessie later learns, she's not alone in her turbulent feelings. She meets four other women at the treatment center who are also fighting the disease--Pam, who feels guilty for her husband's death; Karen, whose negative attitude gets on everyone's nerves; Irene, who rarely speaks; and Marcie, a young mother who thought the ''bump'' on her breast was a result of lifting heavy boxes. They develop an unlikely bond and eventually see each other as more than women who share a disease.