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Poetry by Cancer Caregivers

Dara, Parvez MD, FACP, MBA

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000470882.47942.8d
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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, FACP, MBA (@JediPD)

Parvez Dara, MD, FACP, MBA (@JediPD)

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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