16 months after cancer diagnosis UNO/UNMC student graduates from master’s program


Shelby Fox Wagner. Photo by Champion Photography.

Jessica Wade
Editor in Chief

The day Shelby Fox Wagner learned that she had been accepted into the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Program, a joint UNO and UNMC graduate program, was the same day she was diagnosed with cancer.

“My best friend came over, we were having some wine and cheese, just hanging out and celebrating and I started not being able to breath,” Fox Wagner said.

Fox Wagner’s doctor had originally thought she had asthma, but after a long night of testing doctors discovered a tumor in her chest.

“Everything kind of moved pretty quickly after that. From that day I had a biopsy and other tests run to figure out what it was,” Fox Wagner said. “A few days after that they scheduled me to have a port put in for chemo and I had my first chemo treatment. All of that was in like a two-week time span.”

After informing the faculty within the ABA program, Fox Wagner said she insisted she be treated as normally as possible, and while many people suggested she take the semester off, Fox Wagner continued with the program and her graduate assistanceship.

“I was like, ‘no, I need something to keep me going.’” She said. “I did chemo from August to September, and then I needed radiation from January into February. In May, I was told that I was in remission and I have been since then.”

Fox Wagner spent the next school year balancing her treatments, course work and graduate assistanceship.

“There were times where I videoed in for class from the hospital while I was getting an infusion,” Fox Wagner said. “The supportiveness of the staff and faculty from both campuses really was what made it more manageable.”

Today, roughly 16 months after her diagnosis, Fox Wagner graduated from the Applied Behavior Analysis Program.

“It’s quite a relief to know there’s not some assignment out there looming over me that has to get done at some point,” Fox Wagner said. “And that all that hard work has finally paid off!”

Fox Wagner plans to pursue a career in outpatient behavioral health.