NEW BERLIN, Ill. (WCIA) – Susan Sullivan Danenberger spends most of her days running Danenberger Family Vineyards. But last month, she changed careers, just for a day. She became a supermodel.
“I almost feel like the country girl going to the city,” Danenberger said. “It’s still like a dream to me.”
Danenberger owned the runway at New York Fashion Week, modeling a special line of bras for breast cancer awareness from the company AnaOno. The company’s founder, Dana Donofree even named a bra after Danenberger called the Susan Bra.
“I was really humbled and really proud that she did that,” Danenberger said.
Danenberger first participated in the event in 2019 after being nominated.
“I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t imagine what it was gonna be like,” Danenberger, the owner and winemaker of the vineyard and winery, said.
In 2014, Danenberger was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.
“I found a lump in the spring of 2014 and I knew immediately,” Danenberger said. “It was pea size. It was really hard.”
But the cancer spread and about two years later, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
“I had a mastectomy at that time and then started the long journey of metastatic breast cancer,” Danenberger said.
Her cancer is terminal and she continues to undergo treatment, but she’s not letting her diagnosis slow her down.
“I feel like I’m daring and thriving more than I would have if I didn’t have cancer because what do I have to lose,” Danenberger said.
She has become a staunch advocate for women fighting breast cancer all over the country.
“Women would come in here and they knew I had cancer because I would post about it on social media, and I just started talking to people one on one at the winery, and then I decided I wanted to do more,” Danenberger said.
It’s her advocacy that got her a spot at one of the largest fashion shows in the world.
“Once I got there, and I got to know the women, I didn’t even think about it being New York anymore,” Danenberger said. “It was just doing this with other women that I loved.”
But Danenberger’s work also goes far beyond the runway. She went from the Big Apple to the U.S. Capitol where she and volunteers with the American Cancer Society met with members of Illinois’ congressional delegation and advocated for investing money into breast cancer research and for policies on cancer related screenings.
“I needed a reason to keep going, I needed something that I could say I did to make a difference,” Danenberger said. “You worry about what’s your mark on your life and this life when you leave, and I’m hoping the winery continues on, but to be able to help other people, that’s what we’re here on this earth for.”