Doctors detected the disease by chance after the 82-year-old took a serious fall in February and an X-ray revealed a shadow on her lung that tests confirmed was cancer.
‘They found it just by chance because I was healthy and I didn’t feel sick at all, it was meant to be I think,’ Ms Gilfillan said.
Doctors chose to operate on Ms Gilfillan despite her age because of her excellent physical fitness, which she credits to her three weekly gym workouts.
‘When I turned 80 I found I was going downhill so I joined the Belmont Oasis gym,’ she said. ‘It really built me up and I felt so fit so that’s why I didn’t feel like I had cancer.’
Ms Gilfillan’s surgery in September successfully removed all of the cancer so she did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
She said older people should keep up their fitness because it could help slow the onset of cancers and they needed to know the ‘silent killer’ could strike at anytime without showing symptoms.
‘You’re not tired just because you’re old,’ she said.
Ms Gilfillan will take part in the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil on Saturday at Crawford Lodge in Nedlands to raise awareness and remove the stigma of the disease that is associated with smoking.
She said after a nightmare year she was looking forward to heading back to the gym when possible and spending more years with her family.