'Dust Lady' of 9/11 Marcy Borders dies from stomach cancer

World Trade Centre worker was captured in an iconic photograph on the day of the al-Qaeda attacks

Rose Troup Buchanan
Wednesday 26 August 2015 11:53 BST
The iconic photograph taken of Ms Borders as she left the World Trade Centre
The iconic photograph taken of Ms Borders as she left the World Trade Centre (Getty/AFP)

The woman photographed fleeing the World Trade Centre in one of the most iconic and enduring images of the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks has died from cancer.

Marcy Borders, 42, known as the ‘Dust Lady’, had attributed her stomach cancer - diagnosed in April 2014 - to the after-effects of the attack in 2001 which claimed 2,753 lives.

The mother-of-two, who is believed to have died on Monday night according to her family's social media posts, blamed her illness on inhaling dust particles: “I’m saying to myself ‘Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?

“I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses. I don’t have high blood pressure...high cholesterol, diabetes,” she told US newspaper the New Jersey journal in November.

Ms Borders was only in her first month at the World Trade Centre One, where she worked on the 81 floor, when the bombers flew into the building. Despite orders from her supervisor to stay at her desk, the then-28-year-old's disobedience saved her life as she made it out of the building.

“Hundreds of people were trying to get out. My stairwell was badly damaged and we had to move stairwells, I was convinced we were going to die. I’m so glad I had the strength to get to the bottom,” she told the MailOnline in 2011.

After surviving 9/11 Ms Borders struggled with alcohol and drugs dependency, loosing custody of her children.

“I didn’t care about myself or anyone else. I couldn’t deal with life. I had become a garbage can. I dropped to around 90lb. My life wasn’t getting any better. I wanted to end it,” she told The Times around the same time.

Following a stint in rehabilitation in 2011 she remained sober. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and started a course of treatment.

Writing on Facebook, her cousin John Borders, said she “unfortunately succumbed to the diseases that (have) ridden her body since 9/11.”

“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,” he wrote.

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