On Monday night's Jeopardy! episode, reigning champion Christine Whelchel showed up looking a little differently than she had during her previous appearances on the show. Whelchel, a piano teacher from Tennessee, is also a breast cancer survivor.
During last night's appearance, she decided to forgo the wig she'd been wearing last week. In an uplifting and emotional moment, Whelchel told host Ken Jennings there was a very special reason she decided to ditch the wig. The powerful clip has been going viral on social media, and it's easy to see why.
"After the winnings, I decided that I didn't need to hide behind a wig anymore and I wanted to normalize what cancer recovery looks like," Whelchel said.
Whelchel has already amassed $73,602 during her multi-day winnings, but the best news isn't that she's excellent at trivia. It's that she's cancer-free. She was actually undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer when she auditioned for the show—one of the side effects of chemo is alopecia, or hair loss.
"I was diagnosed in March of 2021, and one of the first things I did a couple of weeks after being diagnosed was take the Jeopardy! test," Whelchel said. "And I ended up getting my audition the night before my surgery in May."
When Jennings expressed his good wishes, she confirmed that all went well with her surgery and beyond: "Everything else went well and I'm cancer-free as of right now," she said.
Many fellow cancer warriors and fans of the show commented on the viral moment, shared by Jeopardy!'s official account.
Whelchel's viral moment was featured on Good Morning America Tuesday, where co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is a cancer survivor as well, made the point that cancer patients don't always wear wigs for themselves.
"Sometimes we wear the wig to put others at ease," she said. "[Whelchel] showed a lot of strength, a lot of courage. And I'm telling you, people were watching. It makes such a big, big difference."