The Cindy Stowell Story is heartwarming, inspiring and extraordinary. Despite the grim diagnosis of stage four cancer, she auditioned and proved herself fully qualified to appear on Jeopardy. Because she had advised the program’s accommodating staff of her medical condition, they had sped up their normal contestant selection process so she could compete sooner.
Only a few of the show’s producers and host Alex Trebek had known that the time she had left was limited.
Well… Stowell not only competed well but competed while ill.
During one taping, she had been nauseous, feverish and in need of painkillers… those meds slowing down her reaction time, which made signaling in to provide the questions to the answers an even greater challenge.
Even more miraculous, there had been a Jeopardy taping hiatus, which, purely by coincidence, had perfectly jibed with her need for hospitalization… allowing her sufficient time to regain her strength… to come back to compete again.
In the end, champion Stowell had won $103,803, which she pledged to donate to the Cancer Research Institute. As for her six game winning streak, only 38 contestants have equaled or exceeded that plateau since Jeopardy’s “five wins and out” rule ended in 2003.
Though she died on December 5th (a little more than a week before her episodes were to air on TV), thanks to the kind folks at Jeopardy, the DVD they had provided allowed her to see three of her appearances.
As for my own reactions…
If I hadn’t been aware of Stowell’s story prior to watching her compete, I’d have never guessed in a million years how seriously ill she was. As far as I’m concerned, she could’ve also won an Academy Award for acting so healthy.
Seeing her dream of appearing on Jeopardy come to fruition had to have been the thrill of her lifetime and, doubtlessly, in giving her something to live for, kept her going strong a bit longer than had she wallowed in sorrow in some hospice bed.
I only wish she could’ve gone into remission, lived a good long life and appeared on Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions.
When TV had gone digital back in 2009 I had ceased viewing all first run programming. I only reentered TV Land this past June after my sister had provided me a digital converter she no longer needed. Admittedly, I’d been feeling mostly underwhelmed about what TV had become during my seven year absence… well… at least until I had eye witnessed Stowell’s stunning display of courage… her looking at death squarely in the eye and telling it to go to hell.
Cindy Stowell had a fighting spirit… in the game of Jeopardy… in the game of life.
Her never say die determination has been an inspiration to millions… and I count myself among them. She will live on, forever, in the memories of all who witnessed her will to live.
I only wish I could’ve thanked Ms. Stowell in person.
My heartfelt condolences go out to her surviving family and friends.