"We put everything on hold to focus on Anthony's treatments," Krista Rivera told TODAY Parents. "He was in remission for seven weeks before we found out his cancer had returned. We were devastated because on top of fearing the future of Anthony's health, doctors said after the additional rounds of chemotherapy, there was no chance he would be able to have children."
Rivera, who works as a middle school language arts teacher, says their health insurance did not cover infertility treatments. After visiting doctors for consultations, the Cape Coral, Florida couple realized paying for the treatments out of pocket would be impossible for them financially.
Then, Rivera heard about a "Win a Baby" contest being held by a local radio station, B1039/WXKB-FM, offering a free round of IVF to the winner.
"We had to make a video explaining who we were, why we needed IVF and why we wanted to become parents," Rivera recalled. "I made the video while sitting next to Anthony in the cancer treatment center."
"It seems everyone tends to keep fertility struggles quiet, but there's no reason to."
Adam Star is the program director for B1039, and says the contest has special meaning to morning show host Jason "Big Mama" Jones.
"Jason needed help adding to his family with his wife, Sara," said Star. "They shared their experience with listeners and friends on social media. We were all amazed at how many other families were struggling with infertility."
"We wanted provide another family with the same experience that my wife and I went through that brought us so much joy," Jones said. "We wake up every morning on B1039 to make miracles happen and dreams come true."
The Riveras dreams did come true: After voting put the couple in the contest's top ten, they received a call from the radio station.
"Big Mama called me and asked us to come in the next day," said Rivera. "He told me we had made the top two but I couldn't tell anyone. Unfortunately, Anthony was getting chemo during the announcement so he was only able to call in rather than be there in person."
Rivera went to the radio station on her own and learned she and her husband had won the contest. In January 2018, they started their journey to have a baby.
"It was a long process of testing, stimulating with medications and monitoring," Rivera shared. "We had some setbacks...it was a difficult journey but I finally found out I was pregnant around this time last year."
In August 2019, Rivera gave birth to a baby boy they named Garrett.
"We couldn't be any happier about winning the contest," said Rivera. "The support we received from friends, family and the community was unbelievable. Most importantly, without this contest, we wouldn't have our baby boy."
Since the Riveras' win, B1039 held a second contest and chose a new round of parents as winners.
"My advice to them is to enjoy every single step," said Rivera. "While giving yourself injections and going through lots of tests can be stressful, it is part of such a beautiful miracle... I hope this time next year we have another B1039 baby to celebrate."
As their story goes viral, Rivera hopes to inspire other couples facing infertility to ask for support.
"It seems everyone tends to keep fertility struggles quiet, but there's no reason to," said Rivera. "To the other couples battling infertility: Take care of yourselves and reach out to your friends and family. You are not alone, and there are so many people that understand and are able to love you through this difficult journey."
Rivera hopes sharing her story will shine a light on the difficulties couples often face when paying for infertility treatments.
"I hope this will inspire others to do similar contests, and that eventually infertility treatments and adoption assistance will be covered for infertile couples, same-sex couples and single individuals wanting to be parents," said Rivera. "We feel so blessed to have been helped in this way, but would love for this to help others as well."