News Americas

Thursday 29 September 2016

'Dust Lady' from 9/11 photo dies of stomach cancer aged 42

Harriet Alexander in New York

Published 27/08/2015 | 02:30

Marcy Borders outside the World Trade Centre on 9/11
Marcy Borders outside the World Trade Centre on 9/11

An American woman whose traumatised, dust-covered face summed up the horrors of the September 11 attacks has died of stomach cancer at the age of 42.

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Marcy Borders, known as 'The Dust Lady' thanks to the photograph taken in the immediate aftermath, became one of the most recognisable survivors. She had started work at Bank of America a month before the attack, and was working on the 81st floor of World Trade Centre in New York when the first plane hit. She made it down to the ground level, and was walking away when the second plane struck the tower, leaving her covered from head to foot in thick, grey dust.

In the years that followed, the mother of two fell into a spiral of drink, drugs and depression, which saw her rack up huge debts and have her children taken into care.

"I just couldn't cope," she said in 2011, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. "The alcohol made me numb, the drugs got me high. Every time I saw an airplane, I thought there would be another attack. I could not get that day out of my mind."

But a decade on, she was finally getting back into the working world and helping with a candidate's local campaign for mayor when, in August 2014, she was diagnosed with stomach 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."

Announcing her death this week, her cousin, John Borders, said she died of "the diseases that (have) ridden her body since 9/11".

In the years since 9/11, many hundreds of people caught up in the attacks have been diagnosed with cancer.

When asked if she ever looked at 'The Dust Lady' photo of herself, Ms Borders said she avoided doing so as much as possible.

"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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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