Jeannie Mai Says She's 'Utterly Grateful for Life' in Emotional Message for 42nd Birthday

Jeannie Mai is thankful to mark another birthday, two months after enduring a serious health scare.

As Mai turned 42 years old this week, The Talk co-host posted an emotional message on her Instagram Tuesday along with a sunny swimsuit snapshot of herself.

"This year is unlike any other year I've ever celebrated my birthday. It was an awakening year, one that made me recognize what it means to be truly GRATEFUL," she wrote in her photo caption. "Grateful for the little things that soothe my soul and making time to print pictures off my phone for my home, re-reading all the books that moved me as a child, (Flowers for Algernon..still an all-time fave), learning to dance and face my fears in front of America."

In November, Mai was forced to drop out of competition on Dancing with the Stars and underwent surgery after she was diagnosed with a parapharyngeal abscess. She told PEOPLE later that month that despite the "near life-threatening" diagnosis, she was "very thankful to be alive."

In her birthday caption, Mai continued to say she is "grateful for the STRENGTH and resilience in my body after surgery." She also gave a shoutout to her fiancé, rapper Jeezy, for his support.

"I'm grateful for the STRENGTH and resilience in my body after surgery, grateful to nourish it back to health, grateful for the healing love of my soulmate, Jay, and my family; and thankful for everyone here who has supported and encouraged me with such love and humor from around the world," she said.

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"Thank YOU for this 42nd year of life that makes me grateful to CREATE!!" she added. "The year ahead invigorates me to create all the things I've always wanted to enjoy. Specifically for my health and for my love of fashion 😍…I've got some exciting announcements coming up for Mai Fam!!! But most of all— I am utterly grateful for life. THANK YOU for the birthday wishes!! WHASSS GOOOOOD CAPRICORNS!!😎🤪"

Recalling the aftermath of her surgery, Mai previously opened up to PEOPLE about her recovery process.

"The alarming thing is, I still couldn't breathe afterwards," she said. "It was even worse because now — because of extreme surgery, where he had removed my tonsils and also completely cut open the abscess in my throat in order to funnel the liquid out — my throat is swollen. I couldn't eat anything for two weeks, so I was tube-feeding there in the hospital for a week, and I had a nurse come in every two hours just to make sure I was breathing."

"Having to be on extreme critical care watch was really scary. That was another scary part, when you realize how fragile you are coming out of surgery even though everything was removed," she continued. "After I left the hospital, for a week being at home, I still had to be on an IV and I could not move, because anything you do that raises your blood pressure causes your throat to tighten up."

Mai then said she was grateful for the unwavering support and "outpouring of love from friends and everyone I have worked with."

"From phone calls, to messages, flowers to even soups, I was quickly on the mend because of the encouragement from wonderful people in my life," she said at the time. "I am so grateful."

"It's really rare to see in television or in work, where people genuinely care about you," Mai added. "But I can definitely say with DWTS and The Real, these people genuinely cared about my wellbeing and took care of me and supported me throughout my entire process of healing."

With reporting by NATALIE STONE

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