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Put on Your Big Girl Pants

“Put your Big Girl Pants On” is a saying I have heard quite a lot and, to be fair, I don’t mind it, infact I quite like it; It makes me laugh and anything that does that is always positive. I have even got a little pin badge with the words “Big Girl Pants On. Bring it.”* The pin badge sparkles too which is always a bonus, I do love sparkly things!

But, it got me thinking, what does ‘putting your big girl pants on’ mean? And what does it mean in terms of going through cancer treatment?

Obviously big girl pants can literally mean BIG pants. I’m thinking of Bridget Jones here who was the champion big pants - who can forget Daniel Cleaver’s reaction when he saw them? These pants are the ones that are supposed to ‘hold you in’ and ‘flatten your stomach.’ There are so many different sorts of these big pants, M&S Is full of them – it’s all a bit confusing. My Grandma used to call them ‘Girdles’ which I am sure had some sort of actual scaffolding inside. They're uncomfortable and you can’t eat when you are wearing them. These days I find it easier to wear looser fitting dresses.

There are the Big Pants you wear when you are on your period - the pants that are your go-to comfy pants. Then, there are the pants that anyone who has had colitis may know about – these disposable pants are spoken about much less than the others – I’ll call them “Big Taboo Pants.” These are the pants that I thought I might end up wearing when I’m an old lady, but no this was another “gift” of cancer treatment - I got to wear them in my forties!

I own pairs of all these kind of pants – they all serve a purpose and as you can imagine I have a story about each of them, but that is for another day.

So, back to the main point of this blog post – what does “put on your big girl pants” mean? On the one hand, it can be seen as an unkind and sarcastic phrase: a way of telling someone to grow up, stop being so childish and stop being mardy. I don’t regard it in this way because it has always been said to me in a supportive and compassionate way and as a shared joke during my cancer treatment.

It’s a saying that someone has shared with me when I have told them about how I have to face something that I’m worried about. In this midst of this ‘Melanoma Shizz’ I find myself in, it’s usually about scans or appointments. It’s a phrase I often see on my melanoma support group from other patients or my lovely cancer nurses have said it to me because they know it will make me smile. It’s a way of saying, you can do this, you can face this, you’ll be okay. It’s always been said to me by people who really understand what I am going through and by those who I know will support me if I really can't face 'putting my big girl pants on'.

So today is my first treatment day for a while. I've had to have a break of almost 3 months because of the side effects of the combination immunotherapy I was on; it caused colitis (hence my knowledge of big taboo pants.) Now, I am back on the treatment ward having single Nivolumab. It’s actually working it’s way through my knackered little veins as I type. I was so nervous this morning, not for the actual treatment but because I'm worried that it will continue to cause side effects - colitis is my nemesis at the moment! But I know I've got so many people supporting me – my family, friends and medical staff - so I feel confident that whatever happens I’ll be okay. So this morning I got dressed, put on my make-up, packed a ‘treatment picnic’ of snacks and treats, charged up my laptop so I could write this blog post and put on my big girl pants (not Bridget Jones style, I can’t be uncomfortable on treatment day – today is the day for comfy big girl pants and a loose fitting dress!) Oh and I put on my new badge* (as in the photo).

*Made & designed by 2littleboys (

I bought mine from The Chiswick Gift Company (


Gilli Fowler
Gilli Fowler
Aug 04, 2023

Love your sparkly button badge and your sparkly humour too x


Aug 04, 2023

Wonderful article, funny in places as well. hope the treatment today and the rest of it goes well. Empowered by Big Girl Pants!!

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