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Cindy Stowell: Heart of a "Jeopardy!" champion

Jeopardy tribute

Battling cancer, Cindy Stowell fulfilled her final wish: To go on “Jeopardy!” -- but she one final secret for her friends and family. 

Stowell, 41, suffered from colon cancer when she filmed the show in  August and September, and her run on the show ended Wednesday. She won over $123,000 over six episodes, making her one of the year’s top performers. 

But Stowell never got to see the episodes air, other than advance copies sent to her while she was in the hospital. She died on Dec. 5th, just over a week before her episodes were broadcast. 

The “Jeopardy!” tribute to Cindy Stowell, who died before her episodes aired. CBS News

The victory was even more gut-wrenching when you consider that the drugs she took delayed her reaction time, according to The New York Times. She also needed help getting up and down the stairs to the set.   

Host Alex Trebek said a tribute to Stowell after Wednesday’s show, saying “appearing on our show was a lifelong ambition” for her. 

According to the website for the show, Stowell passed an online contestant test in early 2016. When she found out about her terminal diagnosis, she reached out to contestant producer Maggie Speak in Oklahoma City. In her message, she wrote “I just found out that I don’t have too much longer to live ... If there is the chance that I’d be able to still tape episodes of ‘Jeopardy!’ if I were selected, I’d like to do that and donate any winnings to … charities involved in cancer research.”

She never told her friends or family about her victory, wanting to keep it a surprise when the episodes aired. She donated her winnings to cancer research.