I’m 26 and My Boobs Failed to Kill Me, Despite Their Best Effort

A really long time ago I wrote a post where I lamented in an aside that no one had ever thrown me a surprise party. Specifically, I said:

I remember when I was in junior high school and a big, awkward loser (or more accurately, a tiny, awkward loser – I think I weighed about 75 pounds), a girl who was more popular than I was had a surprise party thrown for her. I was jealous, because nobody had ever thrown me a surprise party, and it seemed so fun.

Well, I can’t whine about that anymore! Because I got the BEST SURPRISE PARTY IN THE WORLD (!!!) for my 26th birthday!

On my birthday – which happened to fall on a Friday – my best friend Katie Bo told me she had planned a fun evening for us. So I met up with her on the Lower East Side, thinking we were going to go out to dinner. I kept guessing what she had planned, but despite her hints, I couldn’t seem to figure it out.

“Will people be talking?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Me: “Will there be speeches?”

KB: “There might be some speeches.”

Me: “Is it a wedding?”

KB: “No! Whose wedding would it be?”

Me: “Will I have to give a speech?”

KB: “Umm…probably not….but I’m not sure.”

Me: “Oh my God, Katie, IS IT AN INTERVENTION? Do you all think I need an intervention?!?!”

KB: “NO! There will be so much booze there. You will be pleased with the quantity and price of the booze, I promise.”

Me: “Is it an improv show?”

KB: “Okay, stop guessing, it’s time to go.”


She led me down the street and into a restaurant, and when we climbed some stairs up to a balcony, I suddenly saw twenty of my coolest friends all seated around a table. “Surprise!” they yelled as I immediately burst into embarrassing tears.

BUT THEN! IT GOT BETTER! As I was standing there, unable to believe that all of these people had come out just to celebrate my birthday, my PARENTS AND MY BROTHER stood up. They had flown 3,000 miles to be there with me. They had planned the entire thing, using my friends in New York to make it come together. My friend Tyler gestured down the length of the table and said, as I cried, “Look how many people love you.” Double-cue the waterworks, y’all.

The best thing about my birthday slash I-Beat-Cancer party was that it gave all of my different friend groups in New York City a chance to interact. My friends from study abroad, my friends my college, my friends from graduate school, my work friends, my roommate, friends of friends – all sitting around one table getting to know each other. I pretty wanted to tear up with joy as I sat there thinking about awesome every single one of those people is, and there’s nothing better than introducing awesome people to other awesome people.

Then the food started. Not only was there an OPEN BAR (Lord help me), but there was a SIX COURSE MEAL that ended with DONUTS THAT YOU DIP IN NUTELLA. So basically I died while eating the pierogi but then came back to life to eat French onion soup dumplings (?!) but then I died again sixty times every time I ate an ahi taco, some wasabi salmon, a kobe beef slider, I can’t even remember what else because I think I had a food blackout. In between stuffing my face with all of this I also had like 1,000 cocktails. The fancy kind with silly names and muddled fruit in ’em. I actually would’ve had more to drink, but I ordered this habanero margarita because YOLO only it was more like OHNO because it took seven hours to drink due to the spice factor. Like trying to drink molten lava. Like swallowing the red hot center of the earth, you guys.

After dinner we all left to go to a dive bar around the corner that’s taxidermy-themed and plays weird dance hits from the 50s and 60s because New York. It was an awesome time, especially when my dad bought a round of Patron shots for everyone. EVERYONE. Then even more of my friends who couldn’t make it to the dinner started trickling in, and I was happier than a bird with a French fry.

Here’s a super-blurry picture of me and my amazing family tearin’ it up on the dance floor because we are so all about that life, enjoy:


That’s the only picture I took all night, and I’m kind of proud of it. I was so surrounded by so many people I love that I just wanted to live it, not document it. Also, I was mildly intoxicated. Although I admit that now I’m mad I don’t have more pictures for this post. Anyway.

Back when I was in the thick of my sickness, really mired down in the mud and sludge of it, there were so many times when I felt like I’d gotten such an unfair shake. I was filled with hate and fury and anger and sadness. But it’s true, what they say –  that cancer isn’t the worst disease in the world. Princess Diana once said, “The worst disease in the world is the lack of love.” And I certainly have no lack of that – no lack of receiving it from my amazing family and friends, and no lack in returning it, either. So just in case I didn’t make it clear: I LOVE YOU, MOM AND DAD, I LOVE YOU, RYAN, I LOVE YOU FRIENDS, I LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS. All of you who came to my party. Who wanted to come but couldn’t. Who are strangers who just happened to be in that restaurant at the same time. Who are strangers who just happened to be at that bar at the same time. You, reading this. You’re all amazing people!

So now, I’m 26 years old. And my boobs didn’t kill me. I’m alive. And that’s amazing, because every single day I think about how close I came to not being alive anymore. And I just feel happy.

PS. I’m officially running the Richmond Half-Marathon – again – on November 16! Suck it, cancer!

18 thoughts on “I’m 26 and My Boobs Failed to Kill Me, Despite Their Best Effort

  1. Wanderer says:

    I stumbled across your blog through a freshly pressed post and it has been so wonderful to hear about your journey. I know it’s cheesy to say that it’s been so encouraging, when I know so much of it really really sucked, but your humor is so catching. Congratulations, happy birthday, and good luck running!

  2. Sydney Saccone-Maraldo says:

    You give me so much hope. Thank you. And Happy Birthday.. And I wish you many,many more

  3. Martha says:

    The worst disease is lack of love. Indeed.

  4. Martha says:

    Many more happy birthdays

  5. Allie says:

    Happy Birthday and congratulations!!!
    (Btw, you are a tremendous writer.)

  6. happy, Happy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY everyday!

  7. Daile says:

    Amazing! Happy birthday!! Sounds like an incredible time – you do have a huge amount of love in your life. And you deserve it! Congrats on kicking cancers butt too

  8. Cats says:

    Happy Happy Birthday! Your surprise party sounds awesome…just like you!

  9. Katherine says:

    Wishing you many happy returns of the day!!

  10. Deb w. says:

    Happy Birthday!!! I loved every single thing about this post! Awesome surprise! I love the love you receive from your family, friends and strangers! You are amazing. (and your brother – hot!)

  11. Laura V says:

    Happy Birthday and I loved hearing about your wonderful surprise party. You are one lucky girl!!

  12. stitchinstein says:

    Awesome! Congrats! What a way to spend your birthday, I’m teary eyed just reading about your happiness. I think I must have missed a few posts…is it official? Did you whoop cancer’s ass? So proud of you!

  13. Yay! See you at the half in Richmond:)

  14. Catherine says:

    Happy Birthday Michelle!! What an awesome party with everyone who loves you, plus an open bar??!! It does NOT get any better than that, trust me. :-). I got teary-eyed just ready about it. What a year you have had! Here’s to being 26 and MANY MORE!!! Much love. xoxo.

  15. Alyssa says:

    That sounds like the greatest party of all time. Happy birthday!!! You are an amazing writer, an inspiring person, and a pretty rockin cancer-free 26 year old.

  16. fransiweinstein says:

    Happy belated birthday! Glad you got your surprise party!!

  17. Sonia says:

    I used to be a very avid reader of your blog and then due to some reasons, I went off the blogging grid and I stopped catching up with most of my favourite blogs.

    Today, two years later, you randomly popped into my head. And then I took a moment to think how long it has been and how you are! I immediately googled, “I’m 24 and my boobies are trying to kill me.”

    The first result was this post: “I’M 26 AND MY BOOBS FAILED TO KILL ME, DESPITE THEIR BEST EFFORT”

    I don’t know you personally, but I’m THRILLED, to say the least! 🙂

    Take care! And yay!

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