None of her fellow “Jeopardy!” contestants knew that 41-year-old Cindy Stowell had cancer and was taking pain medication when they taped a show together in August.
Only host Alex Trebek and a few staff members knew of Stowell’s diagnosis.
Early on Monday, Stowell died of cancer, a week before the show is scheduled to air.
Stowell, a science content developer from Austin, Texas, will make the first posthumous appearance in the show’s history on Dec. 13.
“When Cindy Stowell taped her appearance on ‘Jeopardy!,’ she had Stage IV cancer,” Trebek said in a statement to The New York Post.
“Competing on ‘Jeopardy!’ was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so.
“Sadly, Cindy died on Dec. 5. All of us at ‘Jeopardy!’ offer our condolences and best wishes to her family and friends.”
The Post reports that Stowell passed an online audition test for the show earlier this year. She auditioned in person over the summer in Oklahoma City.
The show allowed her to tape an episode just three weeks after qualifying after she told producers her doctor had given her about six months to live.
She was passionate about getting a chance to be on the show, CNN reports.
In a message to the show’s contestant producer, Maggie Speak, Stowell wrote: “Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview and the taping date?
“I ask because I just found out that I don't have too much longer to live. The doctor's best guess is about six months.
“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.”
Stowell’s longtime boyfriend Jason Hess announced her death on Twitter.
“She was fighting a high-grade fever (which turned out to be a blood infection) and was on painkillers while taping,” he tweeted.
Other “Jeopardy!” contestants who met Stowell were stunned to hear the news.
“She was very nice, very quiet, just a very nice person to be around,” Chelsea Cohen, a production editor at Simon & Schuster in New York, told the Post.
In a joint statement to KXAN in Austin, Hess and her family said: “Cindy came on ‘Jeopardy!’ to play the game she loved and in doing so, she was able to make a contribution to cancer research in the hopes that no one else would have to go through what she did.”
Her family asks that anyone moved by her story consider making a donation to the Cancer Research Institute in her name.