In the 13 years since Jeopardy ditched its five-game limit, 38 contestants have made it to six games or more—and one of them did so while fighting terminal cancer. Cindy Stowell, who died of colon cancer before her episodes aired, finished as a six-day champion in the episode that aired Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly reports. Host Alex Trebek offered his condolences to her family and friends at the end of the episode. "For the past six Jeopardy programs, you folks have been getting to know the talented champion, Cindy Stowell. Appearing on the show was the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for that lady," Trebek said. "What you did not know is that when we taped these programs with her a few weeks ago, she was suffering from Stage IV cancer and sadly, on Dec. 5, Cindy Stowell passed away."
Jeopardy says the show was able to send Stowell advance copies of the first three episodes while she was in the hospital, and to expedite her prize money. She vowed to donate the $103,801 to cancer research. Jason Hess, the 41-year-old's longtime boyfriend, tells the New York Times that Stowell was struggling with fever and severe pain when the first episodes were filmed. She spent a week in the hospital between filming days, and was on strong painkillers that delayed her reaction times. But Hess says the show was a "fun distraction" that came soon after she got bad news about the disease. "She really saw it as a personal challenge to test herself in this forum that she watched and loved," he says. "She said going in that her main objective was not to embarrass herself. Clearly, she achieved that."