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Fighting cancer by day, taking on Gladiators by night

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29th January, 2024

Janice Sideroudakis is our senior hospital scientist managing the Cytology Laboratory at Nepean Hospital. But in her spare time, she’s been taking on Gladiators in the Channel Ten revival of the popular TV show.

Cytol­ogy involves diag­nos­ing patients’ cells under the micro­scope and is main­ly used to screen for cancer.

Jan­ice describes her job at the Nepean Lab­o­ra­to­ry as incred­i­bly rewarding.

“I’m look­ing for indi­ca­tions as to whether it’s a benign or malig­nant process. This work ulti­mate­ly dic­tates a patient’s treat­ment and care plan, and hope­ful­ly gets them well soon­er,” she says.

“I love col­lab­o­rat­ing with fel­low sci­en­tists, pathol­o­gists, radi­og­ra­phers, radi­ol­o­gists and the med­ical care team to ensure our patients receive the best care possible.

“Also, our pathol­o­gy team here at Nepean Hos­pi­tal, from the most senior to junior roles, are just an amaz­ing bunch of peo­ple, which makes com­ing to work joy­ful and fun, despite our seri­ous jobs.”

A woman sits at a desk looking through a microscope with a cytology textbook on the table.
Jan­ice Sider­oudakis helps doc­tors diag­nose and treat can­cer as head of the cytol­ogy lab­o­ra­to­ry at Nepean Hospital.

So what got Jan­ice onto a show like Gladiators?

She watched the show as a teenag­er and even got to meet one of the orig­i­nal Glad­i­a­tors – her favourite, Vul­can – at a shop­ping centre.

“My eldest daugh­ter, Sama­ra (10 years old), encour­aged me to try out as she real­ly believes in my fit­ness and thought I would do well,” Jan­ice explains.

“I have also been in pre­vi­ous real­i­ty TV fit­ness com­pe­ti­tions like lead­ing the 3‑person team in “Spar­tan” in 2018 and a game of chase in “Ulti­mate Tag” in 2021.

“Although, I did not progress past round 2 in those com­pe­ti­tions, due to injuries and pres­sure, they were both a lot of fun and a great expe­ri­ence. Com­ing to do a third real­i­ty TV fit­ness com­pe­ti­tion, I thought I would just enjoy it, try my best and have fun, as I am get­ting old­er, and it may be the last time I will ever be select­ed for such a competition.”

We’re not so sure about that – Jan­ice made it all the way to the grand final of Glad­i­a­tors and was lead­ing the final race when she fell and was over­tak­en by her rival contender.

A woman wearing gym gear yells while a flame shoots up beside her.
Jan­ice came very close to win­ning this year’s revival of the Glad­i­a­tors TV show.

She was one of the small­est con­tenders on the show – but at 42 is incred­i­bly fit. We asked Jan­ice what she does to keep in shape.

“I exer­cise 6 days a week, with half an hour of car­dio to warm up. Always skip­ping rope with a mix­ture of run­ning, row­ing and cycling pri­or to doing heavy weights and fin­ish­ing off with Cross­Fit or high-inten­si­ty work­outs. I have just recent­ly gone back to Jiu­jit­su again 3 times a week as well.

“I am a high­ly ener­getic per­son and love to train hard and burn all that excess ener­gy. Many peo­ple who see me train­ing for the first time have always asked what com­pe­ti­tion I am train­ing for as they’ve nev­er real­ly seen some­one go as hard, every sin­gle time.”

At the end of the Glad­i­a­tors grand finale, Jan­ice was joined by her daugh­ters and hus­band. She says the sup­port of her fam­i­ly is key.

“My fam­i­ly are my biggest fans and sup­port group and just love see­ing me com­pete gen­er­al­ly but are so proud for me to have been select­ed in this re-make of Gladiators.”

As for new chal­lenges, Jan­ice doesn’t plan to slow down any­time soon.

She says hav­ing knee surgery just over a year ago allowed her some down­time to con­cen­trate on com­plet­ing her Mas­ters in Health Ser­vice Man­age­ment, which is she is just about to finish.

She’s also deter­mined to gen­er­ate more inter­est in cytology.

“Cytol­ogy is a very niche pro­fes­sion and I plan to teach more stu­dents our craft and sup­port emerg­ing cytol­ogy scientists.”


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