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Marcy Borders

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Marcy Borders
Borders covered in dust after the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Born(1973-08-12)August 12, 1973
DiedAugust 24, 2015(2015-08-24) (aged 42)
Other namesDust Lady
OccupationLegal assistant
Known forSurvivor of 9/11

Marcy Borders (August 12, 1973 – August 24, 2015) was an American legal assistant who worked at the Bank of America located in the World Trade Center and survived its collapse (WTC1, WTC2, WTC7), following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001.[1]

Stan Honda, a photographer for Agence France Presse, captured an image of Borders, completely covered in dust from the building collapse, that subsequently became widely described as "iconic".[2] The image became so well known and so widely distributed, that Borders became known as "The Dust Lady".

Personal impact

A resident of Bayonne, New Jersey, the 28-year-old Borders was working on the 81st floor inside of the North Tower at the time of the attack.[3] Borders said that she never recovered from the trauma of the attack. A decade-long depression led to a break-up with her partner, the loss of custody of her children, and an addiction to alcohol and drugs. Borders said that a key event in her recovery and return to sobriety was learning of the death of Osama bin Laden. Borders had preserved the outfit she wore in the iconic photo.[4][5]

Cultural impact

The image Honda took of Borders became iconic; she was remembered in many retrospective articles about the attacks of 9/11.[5] The Daily Telegraph chose her as one of the survivors they profiled on the tenth anniversary of the attack. Borders had been invited to spend the tenth anniversary of 9/11 at a memorial event in Germany.

Cancer diagnosis and death

Borders was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2014.[6] Borders's cancer had already saddled her with a crippling debt of $190,000—even though she had not yet received surgery and she still needed additional chemotherapy.[6] Borders said she could not even afford to get her prescriptions filled. She believed her cancer was triggered by the toxic dust she was exposed to when the World Trade Center collapsed, having once stated, "I definitely believe it because I haven't had any illnesses. I don't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes." Borders died from cancer on August 24, 2015.[4][7]

In fiction

"The Dust Lady" photo is mentioned in Julie Buxbaum's novel Hope and Other Punch Lines, about the subject of a fictional photo from 9/11.


  1. ^ J. Freedom du Lac (2015-08-26). "'Dust Lady' Marcy Borders, featured in haunting Sept. 11 photo, dies of cancer: Before she died, Marcy Borders wondered whether her cancer was related to Sept. 11". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-08-26. She was 28 at the time, and Honda's haunting photo of her — distributed worldwide by Agence France-Presse — became one of the most iconic images of that horrifying day. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Andrew Card (2015-08-26). "Iconic 911 photos where they now?". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-08-26. Marcy Borders, the "dust lady" photographed in the aftermath of 9/11, died recently from stomach cancer. USA TODAY Network looks at the current lives of other individuals captured in seminal photos from that time. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Andrew Staniforth, Fraser Sampson (2012). The Routledge Companion to UK Counter-Terrorism. Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 9781136254291. Retrieved 2015-08-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b "Dust Lady Dies: Woman whose image was closely associated with 9/11 attacks has died". U.S. News & World Report. 2015-08-26. Retrieved 2015-08-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Philip Sherwell (2011-09-05). "9:11 the people in the pictures". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2015-08-26. Her ghostly image is one of the most enduring from 9/11, though Marcy Borders, then a 28-year-old bank worker, does not even recall it being taken. Around the world, "the dust lady" was seen as the face of survival and escape from the hell of the Twin Towers. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Jonathan Lin (2014-11-27). "911 survivor 'dust lady' faces a new demon: Stomach cancer". The Jersey Journal. Jersey City, New Jersey. Retrieved 2015-08-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Rose Troup Bucnanan (2015-08-26). "'Dust Lady' of 9/11 Marcy Borders dies from stomach cancer". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2015-08-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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