Scott Roth/Invision/AP
Natalie Stone
November 30, 2017 05:37 PM

Jill Zarin is thankful to her husband, Bobby, for teaching her a powerful lesson about life.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey alum turned 54 on Thursday, and to help celebrate, her friends took her to lunch, where they surprised her with a gorgeous, flower-adorned two-tier white cake that read “Happy Birthday Jill.”

“Thank you to my girlfriends who made me go out to lunch the other day and surprised me with this beautiful cake,” she captioned an image of the cake shared to Instagram.

Jill also thanked her daughter, Ally Shapiro, “for the beautiful post this morning. You know how to make a mama cry.” For her mother’s birthday, Shapiro dedicated a heartfelt post to Zarin, in which she called her “the strongest, most generous, and kindest person I️ know.”

Reflecting on the many blessings in her life, Jill said that she is “most grateful to God who continues to give Bobby and me more time together.”

“When Bobby always said to me ‘cherish the moment’ I never knew the power of that message until now,” Jill wrote about her husband, who is battling cancer. “We continue the fight against Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer everyday and to astound his doctors with the strength and determination to defy all odds. Thank you to everyone for the texts, posts and messages. I read them all and they give me the strength to continue to fight everyday.”

Bobby, 70, was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June 2009, when he underwent radioactive iodine treatment and had his thyroid removed. In 2013, the cancer spread to his lungs, and Jill exclusively revealed to PEOPLE last fall that Bobby had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and undergone Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

WATCH: Jill Zarin’s Husband Bobby Hospitalized with Cancer Complications

In July, Jill revealed to PEOPLE that her husband was recovering at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer following a procedure after his health “took an unexpected turn.” She said that despite the unanticipated situation, Bobby “is not going down without a fight.”

Thankfully, Bobby was released from the hospital, and Jill called her husband’s recovery “nothing short of miraculous.”

“My heart is filled with such emotion everyday it’s hard to express. From the initial shock to the new ‘normal’ it’s been the most emotional time in our lives and couldn’t have gotten to where we are without help from many,” Jill wrote alongside a smiling picture of the couple.

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