Last month, Marcy Borders died of stomach cancer. She had had a difficult life since Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, she was 28 and had been at her job at Bank of America for just a month. Her office was on the 81st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. She ignored her boss’s order to stay at her desk and left, only to be caught in the cloud of debris caused by the collapse of the south tower. Someone pulled her to safety inside another building lobby, where photographer Stan Honda snapped what became known as the “Dust Lady” photo.
Embed from Getty Images
She later told the New York Post, ““It was like my soul was knocked down with those towers.” A traumatized Borders suffered from severe depression, became addicted to crack and lost custody of her two children for a period of time. Months before the 10th anniversary of the attack, she went to rehab, which is where she was when Osama bin Laden was killed. She told the Post, “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 regained custody of her children.
Then came the cancer diagnosis last year. Speaking to the Jersey Journal last November, she said she didn’t have health insurance and owed nearly $200,000 for medical treatment thus far. “I try not to cry – $190,000 already and I still haven’t had surgery, and I still need more chemo,” Borders said, in tears. She only took the minimum number of pills meant to help her with gas, nausea and pain. “”I take it when needed,” she said. “I can’t afford to take as it’s prescribed.” She posed for the Journal’s photographer with the free wig she had received and without it.
My previous 9/11 posts are here, from oldest to newest:
- “I Thought Everybody Else Was Lost”
- 10 Years Later: “Essential Acts of Witness”
- 10 Years Later: The Weak Horse