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'Jeopardy!' contestant who died before show airing shows how to keep fighting

After reading about Cindy Stowell, the Austin, Texas, science content developer who died of cancer before her taped appearance on Jeopardy! could air, I was conflicted about watching. It seemed like a holiday season downer to see someone who knew she would not be around to enjoy her winnings and perhaps not even to see herself on the show.

I was wrong.

I have watched her win, improbably at times, for the fast five episodes, and found myself uplifted by her journey and the spirit in which she played the game. Knowing she was fighting for her life helps put things in perspective, but I didn't find myself dwelling on it.

Clearly others have been watching too. CNN Monday had a story about her improbable winning streak and the back story about her push to get on the show while there was still time.

Far from pitying her, though I was sad of course, I found myself simply rooting hard for her and marveling at the almost magical way she kept winning. Answering the final Jeopardy! question wrong? No problem. Others did too, or didn't but did not bet enough. In negative numbers going into "Final Jeopardy?" No problem again, mount a lightning comeback and come up with the right "Final Jeopardy" answer. She has always seemed the most surprised by her success, which has an endearing quality as well.

Instead of sitting there saying: "She is dying," I have been watching her fighting against improbable odds to win and saying: "I can't believe she did it again!"

If you have not watched, tune in Tuesday for her sixth appearance.