A photo of Marcy Borders covered head to toe with the dusty fallout of the World Trade Center devastation became an iconic photograph on 9/11.
The New Jersey woman, whose life fell to pieces after that day, died Monday night of stomach cancer at age 42.
“My mom fought an amazing battle,” her daughter, Noelle Borders, told The New York Post. “Not only is she the ‘Dust Lady’ but she is my hero, and she will forever live through me.”
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On the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Borders told The Telegraph newspaper that she didn’t like seeing that photo of herself.
“I try to take myself from being a victim to being a survivor now,” she said. “I don’t want to be a victim anymore.”
New York media dubbed Borders the “Dust Lady” after AFP photographer Stan Honda shot a haunting image of her fleeing the scene.
According to New York news reports, Borders had just started a job with Bank of America, on the 81st floor of the North Tower. After the first plane hit the tower, her boss told workers to stay at their desks.
Instead, Borders ran.
A stranger pulled her into the lobby of a nearby office building, and that’s where Honda photographed her.
New York media have touched base with her over the years. She reportedly battled depression and an addiction to crack cocaine. She lost custody of her two children but got them back after finishing rehab in April 2011.
“I didn’t do a day’s work in nearly 10 years, and by 2011 I was a complete mess,” she told The Post in 2011. “Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked.”
She told The Jersey Journal in November that she had been diagnosed in August with stomach cancer and was scheduled to have surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
She couldn’t help but wonder whether her illness was tied to 9/11.
“I’m saying to myself, ‘Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?’ ” she told the newspaper.
Family members wrote on Facebook that she succumbed to “the diseases that wracked her body” since that day.
“In addition to losing so many friends, co-workers and colleagues on and after that tragic day . . . the pains from yesteryear have found a way to resurface,” wrote her cousin, John Borders.