Fifteen minutes before Shabbos in Eretz Yisrael, I got a call from my brother Danny.

“I’m in Las Vegas,” he said in a thick voice. “I just overdosed. They’re taking me to the hospital.”

I have a large family and I run a busy company, but the minute Shabbos was over, I dropped everything and dashed to the airport, where I boarded a flight to the US, taking literally the last seat on the plane. I spent the next two weeks at Danny’s bedside in the hospital, after which I arranged for him to enter a top rehab center, whose cost I paid from my own pocket.

When I spoke to my father, he was overwhelmed with gratitude. “How can I thank you for what you did for Danny?” he said, his eyes brimming with tears. “You saved his life.”

“What do you mean?” I responded. “He’s my brother! How could I not do it for him?”

That was my attitude to doing chesed in general. Every Jew is my brother — how could I not help him?

Having grown up poor and been blessed with success in business, I always saw it as my duty and privilege to use my G-d-given gifts to help others. I’m not the type of person who seeks recognition — you won’t see my name on any plaques or dedications — but I’ve always felt tremendous inner satisfaction from doing people favors, small or large, and from quietly slipping money to those in need.

I tried to take good care of myself as well. I ate healthy, went for regular medical checkups, and did plenty of exercise, playing tennis several times a week and working out with a personal trainer twice a week. From the time I got married, I paid for private health insurance that would cover the best medical treatment for me and my family anywhere in the world.

I thought I was doing everything right. I was raising a large family in Eretz Yisrael, maintaining a daily learning seder, and doing plenty of chesed. I felt genuinely grateful to Hashem for putting me in the position of benefactor, and while I didn’t feel smug about my munificence, I did feel like a good Jew.

When I was 42, I began experiencing shortness of breath during intensive tennis rallies. Having played the game for years, I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I went to see my family doctor, who sent me to a pulmonologist, who sent me for a chest X-ray, an EKG, and a stress test, all of which came back normal.

My last stop was at the office of an ear, nose, and throat specialist. “Ah, you have reflux,” the doctor said. “That can sometimes cause shortness of breath.”

Happy to have finally figured out what the issue was, I began taking a prescription antacid. “You might not notice any change for at least a month,” the doctor cautioned.

Several months passed, and I still felt short of breath during tennis. But I got used to it.

One Shabbos morning, I awoke in a fit of coughing, during which I coughed up some blood. Concerned, I went to see the doctor Sunday morning. My regular doctor was out of town, so I saw a doctor I had never seen before. He sent me for another X-ray, and immediately after he received the results, he called me and told me to go for a CT scan right away.

Following that CT scan, I was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer — “a smoker’s tumor,” as the doctors put it. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

Lung cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It typically has no symptoms in its early stages, and by the time it’s detected, it’s usually too late. Survival rates of stage three lung cancer are dismal.

The doctors were pessimistic about my chances of being cured. “Your tumor is located near major arteries, so we can’t operate on it or do radiation,” they said. “And we don’t think chemo can get rid of it.”

Shock isn’t the word to describe my reaction to the diagnosis. How could this happen to me? I was perfectly healthy, with no risk factors for the disease. No one in my family was sick. And I was a good person! (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 687)