You may not know her name, but you definitely know her face. Marcy Borders, the woman who became known as the "Dust Lady" after being immortalized in a heart-wrenching photograph taken following the attacks on September 11th, has died tragically from stomach cancer at the age of 42, her family announced Tuesday on Facebook.
Borders was just 28 on 9/11, and only one month into a new job at Bank of America inside the World Trade Center. After the first tower collapsed, she ran down the building's stairs and sought refuge in a nearby office lobby, where AFP photographer Stan Honda took her photograph. In the now iconic image, Borders is seen covered head-to-toe in dust, wearing a facial expression that words could never fully capture. “A woman came in completely covered in gray dust,” Honda said in an interview, just months after the attacks. “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.” He had little idea just how historic this image, and the woman it captured, would actually become. Borders admitted that she struggled emotionally following the attacks, and was dealing with depression that led to substance abuse issues, joblessness, and massive debt. She was finally turning things around in 2014, when her cancer diagnosis — which she believed was directly linked to 9/11 — delivered another crippling blow. "How do you go from being healthy to waking up the next day with cancer?" she told the Jersey Journal last year. "I'm saying to myself, 'Did this thing (the towers' collapse) ignite cancer cells in me?'" "I definitely believe it because I haven't had any illnesses...I try to take myself from being a victim to being a survivor now. I don't want to be a victim anymore."