Unsung Heroes:
Phil Mueller
by Laura Haley
Jul 25, 2013 | 4154 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Phil Mueller isn’t the type to give up easily. In college, when his dad pulled his funds due to lower than expected grades, Mueller found jobs to finance his way through. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he fought back. And now, at 70 years old, battling stage-four liver and colon cancer, Mueller still drives to Moab from Blanding nearly every morning to be the voice of the KCYN morning radio show.

“My wife asked me if I’m ever going to retire,” he said. “I told her I’ll keep working until they carry me out feet first.”

Mueller says his experiences fighting cancer have given him even more of a drive to help others who are also going through cancer treatment. In 2005, several years after beating prostate cancer, Mueller was on the first organizing committee that brought the Relay for Life cancer research fundraising event to Moab. He’s served on several committees for the event throughout the last eight years.

“It has become a real cause for me,” he said.

As station manager at local radio stations KCYN and KCPX, Mueller has helped promote the event at no cost to the organizers.

“In the last ... four years, we’ve actually broadcast from Relay for Life, live, all night long, in order to let people in the community know what’s going on at the high school track,” Mueller said.

The event isn’t just about raising money for cancer research, Mueller said, adding, “Relay for life is all about helping survivors to keep a positive attitude.”

Mueller has taken that message to heart, attacking his own cancer with a positive outlook.

“My wife calls me the Energizer Bunny,” he said.

Most days he wakes up at two in the morning and makes the long drive to Moab, arriving at the radio station at around 3:30 a.m.

“I’ll be in treatment for as long as I live, probably,” he said. “But at the same time, I get up and I go to work every day.”

Mueller has made it his personal mission to help encourage others to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Every month, he makes a trip to Huntsman Cancer Institute, where he receives his chemotherapy treatments.

“When I’m at Huntsman receiving my treatments, I grab my pole ... and I ask the nurses, ‘Who should I talk to?’” Mueller said. He then moves around the room, talking to anyone who looks like they might be receptive to conversation.

Mueller doesn’t stop there, though. In the past, he has traveled around the state speaking to cancer survivors.

“They say you’re a survivor as soon as you walk out that door with a diagnosis,” he said.

Mueller also has the ability to find the positive aspects of a negative situation. “I’ve met such wonderful people through Relay for Life and throughout the state through my treatments,” he said.

Mueller is happy to give back, constantly striving to give back to the community in any way possible. KCYN and KCPX both offer free or low-cost advertising to several nonprofit groups.

“My focus is to be as involved in the community as I can,” he said.

Since taking over as the station manager in Moab in 2002, Mueller has done volunteer work with the Moab Valley Humane Society, WabiSabi, the Youth Garden Project and Seekhaven to name a few.

“Phil Mueller has certainly been a friend, mentor and hero to me,” Jaylyn Hawks, the executive director of Seekhaven, said. “He has always shown kindness, friendship, and professionalism in his interactions with me as a director of a nonprofit ... He’s been very accommodating to nonprofits in helping them advertise their events and has always put me at ease when interviewing me on the air.”

Mueller has also been actively involved in the Moab Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the local Rotary Club. Two years ago, the Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year.

When he’s not busy with work, he and his wife, Lou, serve as family history consultants with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“If there’s a challenge, I’m there,” he said. “I love life. That’s the bottom line.”

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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