My dad was a lifelong pipe smoker, and died from lung cancer Dec. 15, 1988. Other than that, he had always been very healthy. The cancer was diagnosed early in November 1988, after it had spread to his spine - and his brain, we found out later. He rarely went to the doctor, which was why it was not caught earlier; he said he had no symptoms until he started having bad backaches (due to it having spread into his spine).
I found his doctors to be not at all helpful, and his nurses very helpful. I wish that the doctors had been more straightforward with me, rather than trying to be polite or encouraging. If I had known clearly how bad things were, I would have taken a leave of absence from my job and spent every minute I could with my dad.