Marcy Borders, who was photographed in the moments following the Twin Towers collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, has died of stomach cancer at age 42. At 28, the iconic photo of her taken by AFP’s Stan Honda thrust her into the media spotlight as a symbol of the devastation of the terrorist attack. She became known as the “Dust Lady” for obvious reasons, but after that day, Borders suffered from physical and emotional ailments for the rest of her short life.
After the 9/11 attacks, Borders developed a drug and alcohol problem and suffered from depression. Her downward spiral led to her losing custody of her children, but she was able to find help and rebuild her life after completing rehab and repairing her family. Then last August, just as she had found a job working for a mayoral candidate in her home state of New Jersey, she received the cancer diagnosis and began chemotherapy. Her treatment continued throughout the year, and her family members started posting on Facebook this week that she was “clinging to life” before announcing that she had passed away.
Borders openly wondered in a 2014 interview if the attacks played a role in her cancer:
“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.”
“How do you go from being healthy to waking up the next day with cancer?”
Here is Borders talking about 9/11 in her own words: