9/11 ‘Dust Lady’ Marcy Borders, featured in a haunting photo, has died of cancer

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

9/11 ‘Dust Lady’ Marcy Borders, featured in a haunting photo, has died of cancer.

When the World Trade Center’s South Tower collapsed, just before 10 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, photographer Stan Honda was in lower Manhattan, taking pictures of the incomprehensible scene. “There was a giant roar, like a train, and between the buildings I could see huge clouds of smoke and dust billowing out,” Honda recounted years later. “A woman came in completely covered in gray dust,” Honda recalled in 2011. “You could tell she was nicely dressed for work and for a second she stood in the lobby.The cancer death of Marcy Borders, a Bank of America worker who was the subject of a haunting photograph on 9/11, has drawn renewed attention to the illnesses suffered by many survivors of the attack. Hundreds of studies conducted in the 14 years since the terror attack show that thousands of first responders and people working and living in downtown Manhattan at the time have been diagnosed with mental and physical ailments related to the attack.

She managed to make it down to the ground level and was walking away when the second plane struck the tower, leaving her covered from head to foot in thick grey dust. In the years that followed, the mother of two fell into a spiral of drink, drugs and depression, which saw her rack up huge debts and have her children taken into care. “I just couldn’t cope,”she told The Telegraph in 2011, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. “The alcohol made me numb, the drugs got me high. I don’t have high blood pressure … high cholesterol, diabetes.” Some types of cancers are among the illnesses covered by the Sept. 11 compensation fund, but it is unclear whether there is a link between the disease and the wreckage and debris left after the attacks. But a decade later, she was finally getting back into the working world and helping with a candidate’s local campaign for mayor when, in August 2014, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Researchers have called for continued monitoring of survivors and long-term analysis of medical conditions experienced by those people – in part because cancer can take much longer to develop than respiratory illness.

Announcing the news of her death on Monday evening, her first cousin, John Borders, said his relative died of “the diseases that (have) ridden her body since 9/11”. The air at Ground Zero contained pulverized concrete, shards of glass and carcinogens, according to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Figures from July 2014 showed that more than 2,500 police officers, firefighters, ambulance staff and sanitation workers reported they had cancer in 2013 – twice as many as said they had the disease 12 months earlier. Fires at the site burned for three months, releasing carcinogens and other deadly chemicals into the air, while thousands of tonnes of pulverized toxic debris lay strewn at the site of the Towers’ collapse. The program initially excluded cancer, but was amended in 2012 after a push by politicians who said there was sufficient evidence to prove a connection between the attack and cancer. But when a Jersey Journal reporter asked last year if she ever looked at Honda’s photo, she said tried to avoid seeing herself as the “Dust Lady.”

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