Marcy Borders, 9/11 ‘Dust Lady,’ Dies of Cancer at 42

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Marcy Borders covered in dust Sept. 11, 2001, as she took refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as a cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area.

Her name was Marcy Borders, but the world knew her as the "Dust Lady" after a now-iconic image showed Borders covered in dust during the attacks on New York City's twin towers Sept. 11, 2001.

Photographer Stan Honda was working for Agence France-Presse when he captured the image, which was snapped just moments before the second tower began to collapse.


"A woman came in completely covered in gray dust," Honda recalled on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. "You could tell she was nicely dressed for work, and for a second, she stood in the lobby. I took one shot of her before the police officer started to direct people up a set of stairs, thinking it would be safer off the ground level."

On Monday, Borders lost her battle with stomach cancer. She was 42.

"I can't believe my sister is gone," Borders' brother Michael wrote in a Facebook post Monday, the Jersey Journal reported.

Borders, who was 28 when the photo was taken, had recently started working for Bank of America in the World Trade Center. After the attacks, she would fall into a deep depression that lasted some 10 years and included alcohol and drug abuse. She checked into a rehab facility in 2011.

"[God] got rid of my biggest fear," Borders told the New York Post in 2011 after learning that Osama bin Laden had been killed.


"The treatment got me sober, but bin Laden being killed was a bonus. I used to lose sleep over him, have bad dreams about bin Laden bombing my house, but now I have peace of mind," she said.

In November of last year, she announced that she'd been diagnosed with cancer.

"I'm saying to myself, 'Did this thing [9/11] ignite cancer cells in me?" she told the Jersey Journal. "I definitely believe it, because I haven't had any illnesses. I don't have high blood pressure … high cholesterol, diabetes."


She added that she avoided the photograph that earned her the moniker "Dust Lady" at all costs because it reminded her of being a victim and she wanted to see herself as a survivor.

"My mom fought an amazing battle," 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."

Share This Story