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Marcy Borders, 9/11's Iconic 'Dust Lady,' Dies After Cancer Battle: Family

by Shamar Walters, Alexander Smith and Elizabeth Chuck /  / Updated 

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A woman who became known as the "Dust Lady" after being captured on camera in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York City has died after a battle with cancer, her brother confirmed to NBC News.

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 Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11, 2001. Stan Honda / AFP

Marcy Borders, a 42-year-old from Bayonne, New Jersey, was pictured covered in dust after the World Trade Center was hit by two passenger jets. She was inside one of the Twin Towers at the time of the attack but managed to escape the building onto the street below.

She died in the hospital on Monday night at around 11:10 p.m. ET, according to her brother, Michael Borders.

"At this time I need everyone to take the time out to pray for my sister, Marcy Borders," her brother said on Facebook shortly after her death Monday. "I can't believe my sister is gone."

He confirmed the Facebook account was his, but declined to comment further.

Borders was told in August last year that she had stomach cancer and underwent chemotherapy, The Jersey Journal reported.

In an interview with the paper, she suggested the 9/11 attacks were linked to her illness.

"I'm saying to myself, 'Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?'" she told The Journal. "I definitely believe it, because I haven't had any illnesses."

Borders was working at Bank of America on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. She told the New York Post in 2011 that she ignored her boss’s order to stay at her desk — and when she got outside, she was stunned.

“There were wounded and the injured” everywhere, she told the Post.

The north tower then crumbled before her eyes, and a stranger pulled her into a building lobby, out of harm's way. It was in that lobby that AFP photographer Stan Honda captured his iconic image of her.

Although she survived the attack, Borders — 28 at the time and just a month into her job with Bank of America — told the Post that "it was like my soul was knocked down with those towers."

Borders battled depression and addiction that was so severe, she couldn't hold down a job. She lost custody of her two children, according to the Post.

"Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked," she told the Post. "I started smoking crack cocaine, because I didn't want to live."

In April 2011, nearly a full decade after the attacks, Borders checked herself into rehab.

While she was there, President Obama went into the East Room of the White House to make an important announcement to the nation: Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy SEALs.

“The treatment got me sober, but bin Laden being killed was a bonus," she told the Post.

After rehab, Borders got her kids back and started working again.

On the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, Borders told The Telegraph newspaper that she avoids looking at the photo of herself caked with dust and debris.

"I try to take myself from being a victim to being a survivor now," she said. "I don't want to be a victim anymore."

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