…but not if you are more than 74. You are deemed so old you should be dead! Image: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 2 May

May 2, 2021 BY

I am creating a body of work for which, 30-years ago, I had neither the wit, nor the wisdom. Capacity comes with age, experience, and maturation.

IT was a total astonishment when a Roneod letter arrived, signed by Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, and mailed by the National Bowel Council screening program, advising, given my current age (I hate it, but I am 74), the free program for the like of me is over! This, it assured me, is consistent with Australia’s clinical guidelines for the prevention, early detection, and management, of bowel cancer. Bugger that, I say!

Incredulously, and with steam pouring out of my ears, I telephoned 1800 118 868. I was as cross as two sticks. I thought the pressure inside of me would blow-out my teeth.  The consequential conversation with a team leader proved an utter waste time. It was reminiscent of Monty Python. It were as if I had phoned a robot. It left me pondering how simple it must be to program, totally, some employees to ‘talk-the-talk’. He regurgitated a diatribe of platitudinous gobbledegook which fell on icy, fallow ground.

Ageism is a serious societal problem. Recently, I went for a medical test. When the spotty, callow youth, who looked as if he were barely out of primary school, looked at my date of birth, he began talking to me as if I were the village idiot. You know the sort of thing: loud and slow! I shot him a look and then to amuse myself, I decided to play along with his precarious error in judgement. On a less affable day he would have been given a short, sharp lesson which would have left him ricocheting around the screening caravan. Fortunately for him I chose to play Pa Kettle on this occasion!

Ageism is less apparent in the entertainment industry, but it does exist. Mercifully, it is the quality of the work and not the age of the writer which makes for a success. For those less fortunate fellow travellers who have no audible voice, or are studiously ignored, the exclusion is unacceptable by any standard of reckoning.

As it happens, Ballarat surgeon, Bruce Stewart, looks after me, but for those who cannot afford private health insurance it could prove a thorny road, should things turn nasty.

In the same way: One in seven Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; however, after the age of 74 mammograms are not available. It does leave one wondering?

Is the government message meant to be read as it might be construed? “You are old, and it does not matter if you contract bowel or breast cancer, and die!” Is that the essence of what they are saying?

It raises an interesting point of argument. The option on my stage play, Letters From The Heart, has been taken-up by John Frost – Gordon Frost Organisation – with a view to opening in Australia, and transferring to London and New York, COVID notwithstanding.

Since, clearly, I am worthless, and no longer warrant saving from bowel cancer, I wonder, in the event of a box-office success, will the government expect me to pay tax on my earnings? Will they be holding-out their avaricious paw to wrestle every last centime from my hard-earned efforts? Why would one be paying taxes to support a program to which one is denied access?

We have in our society many who are more than 74, and who continue to make an important contribution. Justifiably, they expect the same prerogatives as their fellow Australians. Perhaps the government is labouring under the misapprehension one does not develop cancer after a certain age. Now, that would be too silly!

The decision to deny screening to those aged more than 74, regardless, is f******* outrageous, and discriminatory!

Roland can be contacted via [email protected].