Tributes about Mitch have been coming in from many sources – old friends, relatives, fellow travelers down the complicated Neuroendocrine Tumors’ (NETs) pathways. He was a guide and a listener. Everyone recognizes Mitch’s special traits – kind, brilliant, empathic and compassionate, funny, brave, clear-minded, curious, gracious and warm. Friends describe him as “a stand-up guy,” “a huge champion,” “a very good soul,” and he had “a love of life with loud low-pitched, deep-belly laughter!” He was all of this and more.
An attorney by profession, with a law degree from Antioch School of Law and a passion for cartoons/comics, Mitch worked in the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs of the D.C. government while also supporting many well-known cartoonists with pro bono legal work. He was on the founding board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and produced NPR’s Double Take Cartoons that featured “two takes” on political cartoons. Mitch attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where he became an editor of the publication “Bullseye,” a magazine on editorial cartoons and graduated from Fordham University in 1983. In 1981, Mitch and his fellow students established Fordham’s first student newspaper, The Observer. He was a devoted participant at Comic-Con, an annual, crazy comic-lovers’ convention in San Diego.
To say he was dedicated to the people and things he loved is an understatement. He was blessed with two “loves of his life”: Peggy and Michiko. Both strong, independent, and courageous women with their own voices – traits Mitch greatly valued. Both relationships enriched Mitch’s life with love, travel and shared interests, including scuba diving, Broadway shows, cooking, and self-discovery. Mitch knew his own mind and appreciated the minds of others. In 2018, Mitch’s story about finding love with NETs, Test of Love, was featured in the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation’s 50th Anniversary video series.
Mitch’s commitment to help others by sharing his experience and knowledge was manifest in his dedication to the support group that he started for NETs patients in the Washington, D.C. area with Bea Lehming in 2001 – presently known as CACNETS (Capital Area Carcinoid/Neuroendocrine Tumors Support group). After Bea passed, Mitch took on the leadership role – despite his own medical ups and downs with the disease. He was always there for members and newly diagnosed patients to help them navigate their own journeys with NETs. Even while in hospice care (which he strongly supported due to its many benefits in facing our inevitable ends), Mitch helped hundreds of NETs patients with posts on Facebook and in consultation with the changing leadership of CACNETS.
A recipient of Novartis Oncology’s 2017 Monica Warner Award, Mitch fully lived with “passion, dedication, leadership, and spirit” to assist patients, caregivers, and families affected by NETs. His work with NET awareness/education with physicians and patient advocacy can be seen in a number of places including Carcinoid Syndrome Changed My Life and patient education on Carcinoid Syndrome from Diagnosis to Treatment. It was Mitch who coined the slogan “If you don’t suspect it, you can’t detect it,” a slogan used internationally to educate the medical profession.
Mitch Berger touched others and was touched, in turn, by them. He loved his people, and they loved him! Our loss is great, but he has left us better for knowing him.
A memorial service/celebration of life will be held in the Spring of 2020.
To make a gift in Mitchell’s honor
Donate online in memory of Mitchell Berger
Or make checks payable to NETRF and mail to:
PO Box 170662
Boston, MA 02117