Deborah (Deb) Lynn Mueller, MD, of San Antonio, Texas, wife, mother of two teenage daughters, prominent Trauma Surgeon and Critical Care Physician at UT Health San Antonio, advocate for all caregivers and patients, and active Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance (LBCA) board member passed away in her home on February 10, 2023 from metastatic invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), also known as lobular breast cancer.
Deb was born in Georgia into a military family and attended college with an ROTC scholarship at University of South Carolina. She obtained her medical degree from Medical University of South Carolina and successfully completed a general surgery residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland AFB. She pursued a Trauma and Surgical Critical Care fellowship at UT Southwestern and Parkland Hospital, after which she returned to Wilford Hall as attending faculty for nine years. During her military service she participated in breast cancer surgical care. She retired from the USAF in 2007 achieving the rank of Colonel, United States Air Force.
She was promoted to full professor at UTHSCSA under Dr. Ronald Stewart as a trauma and critical care surgeon. She was recognized for her clinical expertise in the trauma room, operating room, and intensive care unit. In addition to her prowess and accomplishments as a surgeon, Deb was always known for her compassion and her advocacy for residents, creating and nurturing the UT Department of Surgery’s Wellness initiatives, as well as being the faculty member who would care for the most complex patients restoring them to health. Deb approached every problem with intellectual discipline, yet was more known for the love and compassion at the core of every decision.
She was an avid traveler, reaching all seven continents and visiting 36 countries, including performing surgeries on Easter Island, teaching in Vladivostok, doing missionary work in Mauritius, and conducting research in Antarctica.
“Loving” and “supporting” are the words we have heard over and over again to describe Deb. In the short time that we had the privilege to know and work with her, after she joined LBCA’s board following her own lobular breast cancer diagnosis in January 2022, we experienced why firsthand. Deb was sweet, smart, and giving of her all. She was an ardent ILC patient advocate determined to turn her shock at her own ILC diagnosis – and the corresponding shock of finding out how little research attention lobular breast cancer has received – into action that would change this for the better, for all lobular breast cancer patients as fast as she could help make this happen.
Deb was an immediate force on our fledgling LBCA Board of Directors. She energized us with her enthusiasm and
commitment. In the short time that she worked with us since joining in May 2022, not only did she take on her fiduciary and LBCA ambassador roles with intense focus, but she found other ways to support the organization as well.
Deb joined several of LBCA’s other patient advocate work groups focusing on methods for raising more awareness of ILC and promoting more ILC research and implementing them. She also planned to participate as consumer reviewer for the US Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to bring the lobular perspective to that grant review table.
In December 2022, Deb graciously opened her beautiful home to LBCA board members, staff, others with ILC, and lobular breast disease researchers attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. It was a lovely evening of conversation and camaraderie that has already resulted in a new global collaboration of patient advocates and researchers on an ILC research initiative.
“We are heartbroken over Deb’s sudden passing and for the loss of her family and the lobular community of this shining star,” commented LBCA Executive Director Laurie Hutcheson. “We so wish that we could have had more time with her. We know that she lives on in us and in our drive to find out how ILC works and to better understand why and how it could so stealthily and quickly metastasize to take someone. We will always remember Deb and carry her light as an inspiration for us to continue our work to raise awareness, better understand, and eradicate this devastating breast cancer type.”
Read more about Deb’s life.