1. Dara, Parvez MD, FACP, MBA

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An Ode to Kaplan Meier Curves

When Kaplan met Meier


no one knew about death's spire.


People came and went


through life's dint


swallowing little pills.


There were losses and wins


in the dungeons within


where ignorance roamed


and played to win


but most knew was a shill.


The two choreographed


the dance of death


as little sticks marred


the absence from loss


and time weighed in on the still.


The spurious results


that previously abound


couldn't hide from the truth


of the elegant reveal.


All was visible in the kill.


Did this pill do


what that could not do


Or did both sire


into equal measure and retire


no one wiser in their gristmill


But Kaplan knew


what Meier intended and Meier knew


what Kaplan pretended;


death like life cast a visible trill


Each step of the ladder


a loss of life


each vertical stick


a loss in reckoning,


both filled the tumbler of human ills


When pills were matched


on the graph they drew


one steeped low


the other climbed true


both bottom matched


in the playbill


In that mathematical file


where the loss is subtracted


and the absence extracted


lives the benefit


or lack of that mill's pill


Breslow held the earlier gains


Tarone picked


the middle plains


and Log ranked


the last remains


to prove the time


benefits of each goodwill.


It is simple attrition, you see


as each life is a step


away from the majesty,


beginning the painful march


on the step ladder down the hill.


The march goes on


as life moves along


and death lives,


where time is variable,


full of surprises


and untimely chill.


So to Kaplan and Meier


A toast to their desire


To highlight death from ills;


the good and the bad, all there


to be seen in their step-wise


graphic frills.


Parvez Dara, MD, FACP, MBA (@JediPD), is a medical oncologist and hematologist in New Jersey. He blogs on "Art, Science and Medicine" at

Parvez Dara, MD, FAC... - Click to enlarge in new windowParvez Dara, MD, FACP, MBA (@JediPD). Parvez Dara, MD, FACP, MBA (@JediPD)