Borders’s death is a stark reminder that many of those who endured the 9/11 tragedy are suffering from long-term health problems. Borders was asked if she thought that the debris from the terror attack, which contained glass and other carcinogenic dust, among other dangerous particles led to her cancer. She responded, “I’m saying to myself, ‘Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?’ I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses. I don’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes.”
Among the many reminders and photographs of the 9/11 tragedy, especially at the World Trade Center in New York, Agence France-Presse photographer Stan Honda snapped an iconic picture of a young lady covered in dust, being pulled to safety as the second tower fell. That lady was Marcy Borders, and on Monday family members posted on Facebook that Borders has passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 42. Borders worked as a legal assistant at Bank of America on the 81st floor. She was running late for work on the fateful day as the plane impacted the building, forcing her to retreat down a crowded stairwell while being chased by a cloud of smoke. As she made it to safety in an adjacent building, the photographer snapped the iconic image. Borders recalled the ordeal in a 2012 television interview, “Every time I inhaled, my mouth filled up with it, I was choking. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I was just saying to myself and saying out loud that I didn’t want to die.”
Sadly, Borders’s life deteriorated significantly from that point until her early death, leaving behind a daughter Noelle, and a son, Zayden. Following the tragedy, Borders fell into a 10-year battle with depression and alcohol and drug addiction. She also encountered financial problems due to medical bills, also having to use less than prescribed doses of medication due to cost. Borders, a resident of Bayonne, told the New Jersey Journal that she checked into rehab in 2011, remaining clean ever since. She said that she was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2014. She also told the Journal that she avoided looking at the photo, saying “I don’t want to be a victim anymore.” Noelle told the New York Post, “My mom fought an amazing battle. Not only is she the ‘Dust Lady’ but she is my hero and she will forever live through me.” New York’s mayor, Bill De Blasio tweeted on Tuesday evening, “Marcy Borders’ passing is a difficult reminder of the tragedy our city suffered nearly 14 years ago. NYC holds her loved ones in our hearts.”
Borders’s death is a stark reminder that many of those who endured the 9/11 tragedy are suffering from long-term health problems. Borders was asked if she thought that the debris from the terror attack, which contained glass and other carcinogenic dust, among other dangerous particles led to her cancer. She responded, “I’m saying to myself, ‘Did this thing ignite cancer cells in me?’ I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses. I don’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes.” Last year, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts over 2,500 people who were at the Ground Zero scene have come down with cancer including, including first responders and rescuers. This is in addition to over 10,000 confirmed cases of respiratory illnesses attributed to the dust and debris caused by the impact and the towers’ collapse.
Although cancer was not originally covered under the original 2010 version of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which provides medical treatment of 9/11-related ailments, it was added by way of amendment in 2012. Unlike the respiratory conditions however, there has yet be a study finding a definitive link between 9/11 and cancer deaths, although doctors note that it takes longer for cancer to develop than for the respiratory ailments. Despite the lack of clinical proof, politicians were able to push the amendment through, citing substantial evidence of a link. The victims compensation fund mandates that the World Trade Center Health Program must continue to perform regular health reviews of 9/11 survivors. Last year, the program monitored roughly 37,000 police, construction workers, sanitation workers, volunteers, and other city employees, reporting 1,655 cases of cancer. This number was stark increase to the 1,140 cases reported in 2013.
New York Post – Susan Edelman
New York Times – Jonah Bromwich
The Guardian – Amanda Holpuch
USA Today – Jane Onyanga-Omara