NEVER MISS A STORY: Get the PIX11 News app for breaking news alerts all day

Daughter of 9/11 ‘Dust Lady’: Thank you mom, for becoming my hero

 

"Thank you mom, for being more than just my mom, but for becoming my hero."

Noelle Borders remembers her mom as the person she could always talk to.

"Me and my mom were best friends. She still is my best friend," she said.

To her family, Marcy Borders was a fun-loving mother and sister. But to the world, she was "The Dust Lady."

In one of the most recognizable images from the 9/11 attacks, Marcy Borders appears covered in dust and debris minutes after the first tower fell.

On Sept. 11, 2001, she climbed down 81 flights of stairs to escape the North Tower. That tower was the first struck and the second to collapse.

That instantly world-famous image turned Marcy into an iconic face of 9/11. The photographer, Stan Honda, captured her seemingly frozen in shock, like the victims of the volcano in Pompeii.

Marcy Borders

In one of the most recognizable images from the 9/11 attacks, Marcy Borders appears covered in dust and debris minutes after the first tower fell.

"She said she saw papers falling out the window, then chairs, then people," Noelle, who was 8 years old at the time, recalled. "She was like, 'Oh no!' She left everything and ran because her main goal was me."

Noelle Borders said that "nobody knows the real story" about her mother’s survival after that fateful day in 2001. The image of Marcy Borders covered in dust doesn’t show the long-term damage she suffered.

Years later, Marcy told her sister that she had pain in her stomach. It was cancer, possibly caused by her exposure to toxins on 9/11. But she managed to carry on for more than a year.

And though Marcy survived the horrific attacks on 9/11, she died Aug. 24, 2015.

A few weeks later, Noelle said that the shock still hadn’t really hit home.

Noelle Borders Marcy Borders

Still, she turned her focus to her school work, earning her bachelor's degrees in communications and elementary education and then tackling her master's degree.

On every anniversary of 9/11, she reflects on her mother.

"It makes me feel good because her story lives on," Noelle said, smiling. "Her story continues through me. She always said, 'Where the dust lady stops, is where her daughter starts.'"

noelleborders1

Noelle Borders, Marcy Borders, and Zayden Borders (Marcy's son)

 

Read Noelle's letter to her mom, Marcy Borders, below:

Noelle's Letter