Known as one of the most iconic symbols of survival following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the "Dust Lady" photo inspired thousands to rise up after hardship. However, the 9/11 survivor, Marcy Borders, knew no such triumphing spirit
Borders died of stomach cancer at age 42 on Monday. She became a beacon of perseverance after being photographed by photographer Stan Honda shortly after the second plane hit the tower.
“A woman came in completely covered in gray dust,” Honda said in 2011. “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.”
Borders had just begun working at Bank of America in the World Trade Center when the planes hit. She was 28 at the time.
“Every time I inhaled, my mouth just filled up with it," Borders told filmmaker Mike McGregor in 2012.
But the haunting photo that reigned as a message of survival for so many was anything but for Borders who became plagued by depression and succumbed to drugs following the attacks. She lost custody of her two children and split from her partner. In 2011, she entered into rehab and got clean.
Borders said she finally found peace of mind with the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Yet after securing a job in 2014, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. On Monday night, she died.
Borders believed the disease was possibly related to the attacks.
"I'm saying to myself, 'Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?'" she asked while talking to the Jersey Journal in 2014. "I definitely believe it because I haven't had any illnesses. I don't have high blood pressure...high cholesterol, diabetes ... How do you go from being healthy to waking up the next day with cancer?"
Washington Post reports that the a 2012 study done by the New York City Health Department found no link between diseases and the debris from 9/11.
However, three former firefighters of the New York City fire department who responded to the attacks died of cancer a month after Borders was diagnosed.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, “While we honor these men, and mourn their loss, it is a stark reminder that 13 years later, the health effects of 9/11 are far from over, and will be with us for many years to come.”