The young woman featured in the infamous ‘Dust Lady” photo has died from stomach cancer at the age of 42.
On September 11, 2001, Marcy Borders was working at Bank of America on the 81st floor of the north tower. At 8:46 a.m. a plane crashed into the building just a few stories above where she was standing.
A manager in her office advised that everyone hold tight and wait for rescuers to reach them, but Borders immediately made a dash for the stairs.
Just as she exited the building, the second plane smashed into the south tower, and as it collapsed to the ground, she was instantly surrounded by a thick cloud of debris and smoke.
That’s when photograph Stan Honda snapped her picture. It was an image that became a symbol of hope and survival after the catastrophic event.
She told filmmaker Mike McGregor:
Every time I inhaled, my mouth just filled up with it. I was choking, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I was just saying to myself, saying out loud that I didn’t want to die. A stranger grabbed me … he took me to safety, and I guess this is where this picture was taken.
She soon became so overwhelmed by feelings of terror and anguish from the experience that she began using drugs and fell into a state of deep depression. Ultimately, she lost custody of her children and her relationship with her long-term partner ended.
After checking herself into rehab in 2011, Borders got herself clean and never touched drugs again. She was also able to make things right with her family.
But just as she began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Initially, when she started chemotherapy, her prognosis looked positive, though recently her health went downhill.
On Monday, her cousin posted the iconic photograph on his Facebook wall with the message: “My Hero!! She has withstood many obstacles since this infamous day.. She now is barely clinging to life.”
Only 12 hours into her treatment, Borders lost her battle.
Just as New York was never the same after the horrific attacks, Borders never fully recovered from that fateful day.
We hope that the iconic “Dust Lady” can finally be at peace.