They say when it rains, it pours. That can be true in trials, but in my life, I’ve found that it’s also true in kindness.

In times of trouble, the smallest act of love is amplified. A note in the mail, a phone call or a text message can go far in lifting someone’s spirits. I still remember the gigantic card I got when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was from the YMCA, and it was signed by at least a hundred people. I didn’t even know most of the names, but that act of kindness hit its mark: my heart.

Don and Mary Roggenkamp of Fergus Falls, Minn., went through a season of trials, one right after the other. While they found lots of support from their friends and family, it was another group that touched their hearts with a special random act of kindness.

Here’s their story.

“It was the day before Mother’s Day 2015. On that Saturday, our lives were changed forever.

Mary hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks. The terrible stomach pains were too much, so a trip to the emergency room was required. After the regular tests, a CAT scan was ordered. The CAT scan showed a 4-by-7-inch tumor on one of Mary’s ovaries. After hearing this, Mary said she knew it was cancer. More tests confirmed that she was right.

Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls sent Mary to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she went through a nine-hour surgery and a six-day stay in the hospital. Then it was back home to Fergus Falls.

That’s when the ‘fun’ began: chemotherapy. Those who have gone through chemo know what we mean.

As if the aches and pain from chemo, along with hair loss and feeling sick, weren’t enough, Mary also became allergic to chemotherapy. Yes, this can happen.

Slowly though, the healing began. After a while, Mary was even able to go through with a total knee replacement, which she had planned on doing before the cancer surprise.”

As Mary was healing, Don went in for a colonoscopy. The lab reports came back: colon cancer. This is where their story develops an interesting twist of kindness.

“Shortly after this, we received a call from our bank. Karin, at Bell Bank, asked if we could come in and meet with her. ‘What’s wrong?’ we asked. ‘Did we forget a payment? Is it something with our mortgage?’

Karin said she couldn’t tell us over the phone. We needed to come see her in person.

Nervously, we headed to the bank. When we got there, Karin rounded up her troops. We had no idea that every year, Bell Bank gives their employees money for a pay-it-forward program.

These five angels, Karin, Emily, Lori, Julie and Amy, pooled their pay-it-forward money and presented us with a generous check.

It’s amazing, the amount of support you get from family and friends when you go through times like this; but from a bank? We never expected that.

We want to say thank you to that army of angels and most of all, Bell Bank.”

I imagine Don and Mary will look back on their cancer journeys the way I look back on mine, awestruck by the joy that can surround a time of such pain, thanks to the power of kindness.

Read about other ways Bell Bank employees are paying it forward at

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at