Almost Home Free


Jean Trounstine is an author, activist and professor of humanities at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts who has won many awards for her work. She wrote Shakespeare Behind Bars: the Power of Drama in a Women's Prison (St. Martin's, 2001) about directing plays in prison for ten years. She is co-founder of the women's branch of Changing Lives Through Literature, an educational alternative to prison, and co-editor of a book by the same name (Notre Dame Press, 1999). She lectures frequently and has been featured on "The Today Show," "Voice of America," "The Connection" and NPR. Her poem, "In the Mirror," was considered for a Pushcart prize and her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, The Southwest Review, Working Woman and many other publications. This is her first collection of poetry.

You can contact Jean at

Pecan Grove Press

Almost Home Free
Jean Trounstine


ISBN: 1-931247-14-5

"With lucidity and courage, Jean Trounstine forges alliances with her readers exploring the turbulent journey of a cancer patient. In this journey, we are blessed by the language of healing— triumphant, translucently honest. Almost Home Free is a tale of fortitude."

—Marjorie Agosin, author of The Angel of Memory, Dear Anne Frank and more than 20 other books

"Jean Trounstine's Almost Home Free is a book for every one of us who has contemplated our life from the heights and depths of opposing forces. From the crucible of fear and uncertainty Trounstine limns a character who looks and acts just like us. We go with her as she burrows back into the experience that gives shape to this book— a testament to life's enduring passage. "There's no way back from knowing," she says in 'Getting Well.' This is the first of many truths Trounstine gives us in this extraordinary collection of poems."

—Pam Bernard, author of My Own Hundred Doors and Across the Dark

"The diagnosis of breast cancer comes suddenly and without explanation. Lives are disrupted and are never the same. Supportive family and friends are helpful, but it is easy to feel alone. Jean Trounstine shares a portion of her life in this collection of poems and those undergoing treatment in the future may read these poems and feel less alone. Family and friends will find them useful to more fully understand the physical and emotional tolls and emergence. It is healing for all."

—Susan L. Troyan, M.D., Surgical Director, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston

Cover design, photo collage and photos by Harry Bernard.

The Language of Cancer

Where was it hiding, this malignancy,
this cylindrical core of disease?
Was it in some dense breast tissue cluster,
a tangle of glands masking its
perineural invasion?
What is it doing now, in its home
beneath my skin?
Rapidly growing she says and I imagine
cells, tripping over themselves
to get somewhere. Why
have they settled in my body?

I glance across the desk at the doctor
drawing pictures. I don’t want to know
my options. My niece could do better
than these crayon sketches,
a breast with a line across it,
a chest barren on one side and next to it
as though suspended in air, a cone.
She labels them technical sounding words
but truthfully, they all spell slice:
lumpectomy; mastectomy; breast reconstruction.
She tells me You’re lucky
there’s nothing in your lymph nodes
I know better now than to jump
at any good news.


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