Ropin’ Dreams Rodeo April 28, 29

Allison McCraw shares her story

In February 2006, Pleasanton native Allison McCraw was treated like a queen by Ropin’ Dreams, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing smiles to children facing challenges due to serious illness or injury. The daughter of Randy and Sherry Bryce, Allison was only 16 at the time. In September 2005 while still in high school, one of her legs was amputated due to Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Now a Clinical Pharmacist at STRMC, Allison is looking forward to attending the Ropin’ Dreams PRCA Rodeo at the Cowboy Fellowship arena in Jourdanton on Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. each night and will be held in conjunction with the Cowboy Fellowship Heritage Days. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at ropindreams.com under the events section.

This weekend of family fun will celebrate 15 years that Ropin’ Dreams has brought smiles to children and their families in the U.S.

Getting a diagnosis

McCraw broke her foot in the fall of 2004 and it never really healed completely. Her mom was working with the special needs children at Pleasanton High School, which Allison also attended. She visited her mother to show her the swollen foot, which felt like it was on fire. That same day they saw Dr. Elmer who performed an X-ray and said she needed more imaging tests done. Her uncle who is a radiologist ordered an MRI. At first they thought it was a severe infection.

She travelled to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and a biopsy showed Ewing's sarcoma.

"It all happened pretty quickly, actually. It was probably a period of two weeks," said McCraw.

The diagnosis came in May 2005, when she had just turned 16. By June she began chemotherapy and finished by April 2006. She underwent a total of 11 cycles of chemo.

After her amputation, she started physical therapy immediately such as lifting her legs and learning how to use crutches. Once she was home she went to the STRMC Rehab Center for strength training. About 1 1/2 months later, the swelling had gone down and Allison was fitted for her first prosthesis.

She was told it would take a year before she could walk unaided. Allison let them know that was not happening.

The determined teen told them, "No, I can't do that. I have steers to show."

By the end of November, she was walking without her crutches. By December she walked well and by January she was independent.

Allison explained it takes approximately a year for your leg to shrink and get to the size that it is going to be. Once you master the first prosthesis, you move on to a better, more high-tech prosthesis. She said most people now don't know that she has one.

"After 12 years, it kind of becomes a part of you."

Once a cancer survivor reaches the 10-year mark, they are checked for possible long-term side-effects of the treatment, such as congestive heart failure or reproductive issues.

Allison thanks her parents for their support during her difficult time. Her father has been a Type I diabetic from before he was a teenager.

"Back then they didn't have the insulin pumps and everything that they do now. So his diabetes was uncontrolled. He lost his sight when I was between 4-5 and had a kidney transplant," said Allison.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, they faced it head on and thought, "Here is an obstacle and what do we do to fix it?"

Her mother quit her job and they never left her side. Going through such a traumatic experience and life-threatening situations helped form a bond with her parents.

"I don't know what either of us would have done without my mother. She has got to be one of the most selfless, caring people I have ever known. I am just lucky to have them. They are still like that."

Ropin' Dreams brings a smile for Allison

Some friends of the family had nominated Allison to Ropin' Dreams. Many of the dreams of the children they serve include meeting a favorite country singer or rodeo competitor. They also sponsor children and their families to Sea World or sporting events like Spurs games or the Dallas Cowboys.

After meeting with the organization, she was picked up in a limo with two others, dined at her favorite restaurant and then taken to the rodeo to see Keith Urban. She also enjoyed a shopping spree to buy whatever outfit she wanted.

"It was a nice break when you have so much going on. It was nice for everyone. My family is quiet and doesn't like a lot of attention, but Dub and Cindy (McClister of Ropin' Dreams) are so comfortable and nice to be around. It was a nice gesture and so much fun to keep your mind off of everything."

She has kept in touch with them over the years and said she will never forget that time.

Earning her doctorate

Allison graduated from PHS in 2007 and later went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. In 2015, she earned her Doctorate in Pharmacy from Texas A&M University, with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

She married Barret McCraw in 2014 and the couple make their home in Pleasanton.

She decided to go into Clinical Pharmacy because she likes the treatment aspect, more than the diagnostic part. She also loves Chemistry and math and she focuses on infectious diseases. Allison said Clinical Pharmacy is underlooked and stimulates her because it is like solving a puzzle. It still allows for that direct patient care.

She is thankful to Ropin' Dreams for having offered a ray of sunshine.

"Now that I moved back I kind of want to get a little more involved with it and give back."