A woman whose photograph became one of the iconic images of the 9/11 attacks has died of stomach cancer aged 42. Marcy Borders, who was pictured covered in dust fleeing the World Trade Center in 2001, was diagnosed with the disease in 2014 which she claimed was caused from inhaling toxic air from the attack. “I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses,” she had told NJ.com. “I don’t have high blood pressure … high cholesterol (or) diabetes.”
Ms Borders had started a new job just one month before the attack and had arrived late that morning. After fleeing the building covered in dust she was grabbed by a man who led her to safety. The picture of her covered in dust was taken by photographer Stan Honda of Agence France Presse and published in newspapers around the world and before her identity was revealed she became known simply as “dust lady”.
In 2011 she told the New York Post her life spiralled out of control after the attacks. “I didn’t do a day’s work in nearly 10 years,” she said. “By 2011 I was a complete mess. Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked. If I saw a man on a building, I was convinced he was going to shoot me.” Hundreds of people have been diagnosed with cancer in the wake of the attacks, but doctors and researchers are still uncertain whether there is any direct link to 9/11.
In September 2014 three retired New York City firefighters who worked at Ground Zero died on the same day from cancers many believe can be attributed to the tragedy. One had leukaemia, one had oesophageal cancer and a third had colon cancer. New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said their deaths were “a painful reminder that 13 years later we continue to pay a terrible price for the department’s heroic efforts”.
Steve Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said that firefighters “have been getting sick and dying in record numbers as a result of cancers and other diseases caused by breathing the toxic air at the World Trade Center site”. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that allowed Congress to set aside $2.78bn (£1.77bn) to compensate first responders with illnesses that might be related to the terror attacks, Sky News reports.