Okay well how long is a long time? And what is "fine" by her standards? Because goldfish can live for over 20 years.
THere is a difference between surviving and thriving. She may have kept them alive, but they were certainly not healthy and thriving. No goldfish should ever be kept in something as small as that.
Just wondering, are you doing the daily water changes on the goldfish? BEcause you should be doing daily 100% water changes in your situation.
Here is a pretty good goldfish link: