ON VALENTINE'S DAY of this year, Domeka Parker found out she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. Parker is a performer and teacher in Portland's improv comedy worldβ€”and while she's been cracking jokes in order to make the struggle a little easier, she's also received a huge outpouring of support from her friends, fellow performers, and fans. On Thursday, the Brody Theater will host one of many fundraising shows to support Parker and her family.

MERCURY: So how are you doing?

DOMEKA PARKER: I feel like shit. Chemo is a disturbing process of poison and willing suffering. The most devastating thing about it is knowing I'll have to do it again. One week down, one week up. And I have to march myself in there knowing what I am about to go through and simply LET them do it.

What are some of the latest twists you've seen?

We found out on Valentine's Day. My husband, Ken Bryan, says that getting me a biopsy for Valentine's Day will be hard to beat, but he's going to try to mix it up next year. The most recent twist is that Ken was let go from his job last week. We have four children, I am a performer, we have no bacon.

How has the experience of dealing with it publicly been?

As a child of theater folk, I was raised to ACT OUT. So, dealing with this publicly has come naturally. I considered a private battle. But I realized that as an active member of such a close-knit community, improv theater and comedy folks, it wouldn't be private no matter what I did. So my choices were, be public and let it be an honest journey that is useful to someone, or hide it away and have the narrative about it just be a story, some story about some lady we kinda know.