Positively the Heartland: Local woman battling cancer supports others with 'miracle' creations

A craft learned from her aunt decades ago finds new life
Posted at 10:52 AM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 11:57:29-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The roots of what motivates Betty Suran today took hold six decades ago. Her aunt, Marge, began making poinsettia pins for guests of her Florida hotel to have as souvenirs. Betty's grandmother learned to make them, then taught Betty and her sister.

"If anybody knows the history behind the poinsettia, it's really a miracle, " she said. "You know, everyone needs a miracle and needs a smile on their face."

Four years ago, Betty prayed for a miracle of her own. A clean-living, non-smoker, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She was shocked.

"Blew me away. Never in a million years did I think I would be a person with lung cancer."

Betty wanted to thank the team of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center for the care she has and continues to receive. She made hundreds of poinsettia pins so that each employee could have one. Then, she set out to make a difference in the lives of other patients.

For every pin Betty sells on her own, she can donate two in support of the Buffett Resource and Wellness Center and Life Renewal Center at Village Pointe. Sales support programs like free wigs for patients.

The flowers are unique because they're made of unconventional materials. The leaves and petals are fish gars.

"Oh my gosh! What?! That's not a...yea, that's a fish gar, yea," Betty laughed about the common reaction.

Betty buys gars — or scales — by the pound. Each poinsettia starts with a layer as leaves, then petals, then more petals, then mustard seeds for the center, before it's finished with a clear coat. The process takes about eight hours per poinsettia. Betty has created more than 1,200 so far this year to sell and donate.

She's clear-eyed about why she dedicates such time — illustrated perfectly by a meeting three Christmases ago.

"I saw this gentleman wheeling a young woman who we knew had cancer. And I had a pin on my coat. I took my pin off and walked over, and as I walked over, I noticed, not only does she have cancer, but she was pregnant. And I handed her the pin and I wished her a Merry Christmas, " she recalled.

"About 15 minutes later, her husband wheeled her over and she said, 'You made my day.' How does does doesn't give you the happiness that that woman gave me."

If you'd like to buy Betty's single pins and ornaments, shop the Life Renewal Center at Village Pointe. If you'd like to order several — which schools, churches and businesses often do — look for Betty Suran on Facebook.

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