McKINNEY — A bird chirped outside the Skelte home. It was a moment of peace and quiet heard outside.
Once inside, it's non-stop giggling and moving and dancing and screaming. There is a little chaos, a lot of love, and an awful lot of courage inside their McKinney residence.
"You know, you just gotta fight!" said Amanda Skelte, in a matter-of-fact way.
She is mom to five little girls. Aiden is seven. Sawyer is almost six. Reese is four. Miller is two. Corbin is five months old.
Reese, with her two big sisters and two little sisters, is in the one waging not just a fight, but a war. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was two-and-a-half years old.
She has endured two surgeries, 18 months of chemotherapy, and countless nights in the hospital since October 31, 2012.
That was the day of the diagnosis. The day of disbelief.
Skelte recalls thinking, "this is something you read about. This happens to other people, not to you. And it could never happen to you. But it does."
And it happens often.
"The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation posted that every day, on average, nine kids are diagnosed with a brain tumor," Skelte said. When she read that in May, she wanted to spread the word.
Skelte has kept a blog for years — long before Reese was diagnosed. Soon after the Skeltes learned about Reese, online friends suggested she exchange information with Jackie Savery, a blogging mom in Pennsylvania facing the same diagnosis with her son, Greyson.
They became friends and learned they shared the same diagnosis date: Halloween 2012.
"We thought if we found more... or found all nine... it could show people that this is just one day... these are the faces of one day. Imagine the faces of every day. It would have much more of an impact than just a statistic," Skelte said.
So she took a picture of Reese, and in Pennsylvania the Savery family took a picture of Greyson, both holding signs asking, "Are you one of the nine?"
During the month of May, Brain Tumor Awareness Month, the post was liked and shared and tweeted and re-tweeted. And the two families that share October 31, 2012 became four.
"We now have us here in Texas, plus Pennsylvania, Florida, and Iowa," Skelte said. "The camaraderie is nice; it makes it worth it to keep trying to find other people."
They set up an e-mail account, firstname.lastname@example.org, and they have doubled the membership in that diagnosis date club. They still hope to find more, though it's a club they wish didn't have to exist.
Through their efforts, awareness is growing.
And doctors say Reese's tumor is shrinking.
She finished chemo in April, and there will be an MRI later in June. "If that's good and stable, we will have an MRI three months later, then three months later, and we hope it keeps staying stable," Skelte said.
Brave battles like the one the Skeltes are waging are happening in families across the country, every day.
This one just happens to have hit a house full of sisters which is also a house full of strength.