*Marcy Borders, the woman photographed as she made her way out of the World Trade Center’s damaged North Tower – covered head to toe in dust – on September 11, 2001, has died.
Borders, who came to be known as “Dust Lady,” died Tuesday following a battle with stomach cancer. She was 42.
She survived on 9/11, walking out before both towers of the Trade Center crumbled and killed 2,753 people in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil. The photograph of Borders as she emerged from the building became one of the defining images of the terror attacks.
Agence France-Presse photographer Stan Honda took her picture after a bystander pulled her to safety as the second of the Twin Towers began to fall.
Borders was running late for work as a legal assistant at the Bank of America on the 81st floor of 1 World Trade Center when al-Qaeda-linked terrorists slammed two of four hijacked planes into the Twin Towers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks.
In a Facebook post Monday, Borders’ brother Michael wrote, “I can’t believe my sister is gone,” The Jersey Journal reported.
“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.”
The Jersey Journal said that the mother of two, from Bayonne, N.J., was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2014 after falling into depression for 10 years following the attacks, and abusing alcohol and drugs. She checked into rehab in 2011 and stayed clean, she told the paper.
In November that year, Borders told the paper: “I’m saying to myself, ‘Did this thing (9/11) 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 said she avoided looking at the iconic image of herself as much as possible.
“I try to take myself from being a victim to being a survivor now,” she told The Jersey Journal. “I don’t want to be a victim anymore.”
In a post on Twitter, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote: “Marcy Borders’ passing is a difficult reminder of the tragedy our city suffered nearly 14 years ago. NYC holds her loved ones in our hearts.