What Does All or Nothing Day Mean to You?

do it with passion or not at all

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a lovely woman named Heather.

I wanted to let you know about All or Nothing Day on July 26th, a day dedicated to living life to the fullest.

I’m a 10 year survivor of a rare cancer called mesothelioma, given just 15 months to live upon diagnosis, then and there I decided it was all or nothing from that day on.

I’m not sure Heather had any idea how good her targeting was. Not only am I a super all-or-nothing person (more on that in a bit), but I lost my grandfather 15 years ago to mesothelioma after a short-but-tough four-month battle. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a brutal form of cancer that develops in the lungs, heart or abdomen, and typically is caused by exposure to asbestos.) Grandpa was a World War II pilot who then went on to start a textile printing mill, so his exposure to asbestos was pretty high.

Typical mesothelioma life expectancy after diagnosis is usually 12-21 months, so to hear that Heather had survived more than 10 years after her diagnosis truly gave me the chills. She chose to live her life to the fullest (as I’m encouraging my mom to do now!)

All or Nothing Day is July 26th and it’s all about celebrating those moments where we’ve gone all out and also highlighting what our passions and proudest moments are in life. It captures the spirit of how I’ve tried to embrace each day since my diagnosis over ten years ago.

Thinking about this day and what it means to me reminds me of one of my favorite songs from college, Clark Gable, by the Postal Service. My favorite lyric is “and I want life in every word, to the extent that it’s absurd.” 

I’ve always believed that anything worth doing is worth putting your all into, worth doing well.

It’s why I don’t just run marathons, I push myself to do my best.

It’s why I didn’t just join the Junior League, I’ve continued to push myself to make a difference (or try!) within an organization I care so deeply about, chairing committees and having served on our Management Council.

It’s why I’m maybe not the best at leaving work at work — I’m always thinking about what I can do better — to help my coworkers, to help our users. 

It’s why I was ready to drop everything to get to the hospital to see my mom for chemo or run out to NJ to help her go wig shopping.

It’s why I surround myself with friends I love to death that I’d do anything for (because I know they’d do the same.)

It’s why I won’t settle for mediocrity (and, to be honest, why I probably struggle with anxiety, but that’s a different story for a different day, eh?)

3 comments on “What Does All or Nothing Day Mean to You?

  1. Tracy Schwartz

    First thank you for sharing. I’ve never heard of all or nothing day.

    Second, my mom lived like this up until her final days on earth before passing on from cancer. I always hoped to emulate her in that way. This was the kick I think I needed to start.

    Third, your passion shines through so much Theodora! Continue to be an amazing person!

  2. Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales

    Such a good post. I was listening to a podcast the other day with Sally MacRae, a competitive ultra runner. One of her mantra’s or mottos is you can always be better, so why not try? I love that and definitely something I aspire to in running and in life!


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