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A Survivor's Story

Family Matters -

Pediatric Survivor Builds His Own History

In his own words, Andrew Pegoda is self-instructed, self-directed and family-guided, with historical research as his focus and fascination.

Andrew Pegoda“I appreciate that the subject of history touches on sociology, psychology and literature. It’s a perfect fit for me,” says Pegoda, who has a passion for teaching the subject.

Taking college classes at Brazosport College, the University of Houston at Clear Lake and the University of Houston was a natural progression for his educational interests. With help along the way through scholarship grants from the Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson, the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation and others, Pegoda received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and is currently working on his master’s (will be completed April 20) and Ph.D. at the University of Houston.

However, Pegoda’s medical education began at age 4 with a non-malignant brain tumor and a diagnosis of neurofibromatosis. In subsequent years, he developed a tumor on his diaphragm, which affected his vocal cords and caused him to not speak for several months. He has also had vision issues as well as an absence of growth hormone for which he still takes testosterone daily. In March 2009, Pegoda had his third major surgery at MD Anderson to remove tumors on his pelvis, all the while, still attending graduate school and completing all of his course work.

Though only 23, Pegoda has grown up more quickly because of his medical experience. Even his father describes him as “wiser than his years,” and proudly touts his son’s achievements of winning a distinguished student award at Brazosport and editing a college textbook during 2007 and 2008.

Pegoda says, “I work all the time. Between all of the classes I teach and help with, I haven’t had a day off since classes began in January.”

Regardless of this, Pegoda clearly loves what he does and is looking forward to two upcoming articles to be published in the Houston History Magazine. He continues maintenance treatment at MD Anderson while in the doctoral program at the University of Houston studying, of course, history. However, “Professor” Pegoda is already at the head of the class teaching University of Houston students that history can be fun and exciting.

Family Matters - Spring 2010

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center