Reflecting on Nursing Through Jeopardy

By Patti Cannistraci

Every evening I look forward to watching Jeopardy, the game show that poses answers to which contestants provide the question. Some days I am pretty good with the response questions. I love the science and health categories; I am much weaker in classical music and ancient history. I secretly always hope for a contestant to say that phrase: “Alex, let’s make it a true daily double!” The audience gasps! I wonder if I would ever have that courage?

Jeopardy Productions, Inc., via Associated Press
Jeopardy Productions, Inc., via Associated Press

This past week I watched Jeopardy, but experienced much more than my usual pleasure. I watched as Cindy Stowell sailed through five consecutive champions. A quiet and unassuming contestant with a firm grasp on the buzzer, she consistently rose to the top. I was amazed at the mastery of her knowledge, as she tackled numerous categories and almost “ran” the category (answering all the category questions correctly), several times.

Cindy Stowell was not your average contestant. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the time of the filming, and knew she had about six months to live. In fact, she is the first posthumous contestant in Jeopardy history. With grace and character, she tackled the game. Cindy reminded me, as a nurse, of the countless patients I have met through my nursing career: the patients who gave me more than I believed I could give them, and taught me more than I could have ever taught them. So much of nursing revolves around listening and learning. It’s not necessarily having a preconceived answer, but rather in putting the patient first, along with their desires and needs. I applaud Jeopardy for stepping up and making Cindy’s desire for this experience come true. And I admire Cindy who donated ALL her winnings to cancer research.