Marcy Borders, The ‘Dust Lady’ From 9/11, Dies Of Cancer At 42

Marcy Borders, The ‘Dust Lady’ From 9/11, Dies Of Cancer At 42
In remembrance Alosh Bennett / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The picture of Marcy Borders, coated in dust and ash following the September 11, 2001 attacks, gave her the title of “Dust Lady.” Fourteen years since her picture first surfaced, she has died of cancer. She was 42.


The 28-year-old legal assistant at the time was working for Bank of America in the World Trade Center. She climbed down from the 81st floor to the sidewalk as the South Tower began to collapse, as reported by CBS New York. This was the instant freelance photographer Stan Honda captured a picture of Borders covered from head to toe in ash and dust.

Borders was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year. She was a mother of two and lived in Bayonne, New Jersey.

‘We lost our very own hero’

“My mom fought enemies in battle and I just loved her so much,” her daughter, Noelle Borders, said, as reported by CNN. “She will always live through me.”

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“I can’t believe my sister is gone,” Michael Borders said.

“We lost our very own hero,” her cousin Elnardo Borders wrote in a post on Facebook.

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Honda had taken the famous picture as Borders fled the collapsing tower.

“It wasn’t like it was one of the best images you would want to view out in the world,” she said in an interview six months after the attacks. “Just looking at it just shows how much fear.”

According to the Jersey Journal, Borders suffered from depression and drug addiction following the attacks. However, she entered into a rehabilitation program in 2011 and subsequently recovered herself.

She expressed in an interview last November whether the cloud of dust and ash had attributed to her sickness. She revealed that she had undergone chemotherapy and was scheduled for a surgery in December, which was to be followed up by more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

“I’m saying to myself ‘Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?'” she said. “I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses. I don’t have high blood pressure…high cholesterol, diabetes.”

She neither had a job nor health insurance at the time, and so it was difficult for her to pay her medical bills.

The World Trade Center Health Program lists several medical conditions. Under the program, first responders, local residents and survivors can seek compensation. Certain stomach cancers and lung cancer are also covered.

Also read: First Baby Girl Born At World Trade Center

According to a study published in 2011, firefighters involved in rescue and other operations at the site of 9/11 attacks had 10 percent more cancers than general public and 19 percent more cancer than those who were not involved with 9/11.

In a tweet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about Borders.

“Marcy Borders’ passing is a difficult reminder of the tragedy our city suffered nearly 14 years ago. NYC holds her loved ones in our hearts.”

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