S. L. Roberts ©2002
The first time I ever saw Mark Tatum was when he appeared on Larry King. As I watched this gentle, yet courageous man who had lost much of his face to two rare fungal infections called Mucormycosis and Blastomycosis, I couldn’t help but sympathize with him for all he had endured. In just a matter of an hour his whole life had been radically altered due to this fungal rarity. How could someone survive losing so much of their face and still maintain stability?
I often wondered what the source of the infection was. Did it come from his home? How could something like this happen?
A mutual friend, Beverly Weikert, contacted me recently and asked me if I would be interested in helping Mark Tatum. She explained to me that Mark and his wife Nancy had recently suffered some rather severe financial hardships due to Mark’s medical expenses.
Medical and pharmaceutical bills mount daily. Due to outstanding debts of the 15 daily medications required, he has been at risk of being denied of life-saving medications. The Tatums owe hundreds of thousands of dollars toward medical costs involved in this misfortune.
I was wondering if I could try and solve the mystery of the Mark’s condition for once and all. As I ask myself, what were the causative agents of this rare fungal disease?
There was a modest sincerity and warm demeanor as this country gentleman began to spill his emotions out to me on the phone. I could feel his passion for life unwind as he began to tell his most compelling story. The day that changed Mark’s life forever.
Mark explained to me that the first night he went to the hospital with this illness he had an intense headache. When the infection began in his sinuses, it didn’t take long to ravage his eyes, nose, and part of his mouth, along with the surrounding tissue.
The doctors told him they didn’t think he would survive. He said that he began thinking about his granddaughter and how much he loved her. Mark had three near death experiences that night and he realized that God had spared him for a reason, perhaps to help people realize how serious we should take these horrendous fungal infections, and what an impact they have on human life. His health is still very poor as he suffers from chronic pain, as well as a wide array of other associated illness. My thoughts raced back to present actuality. I began to wonder if their home had toxic mold. Could this have been a contributing factor?
The Tatum’s “dream” home was purchased in 1997. Mark told me about the day they bought the house with the 1920’s authentic caboose bedroom. He couldn’t believe that the seller had accepted his meager offer. Mark had to re-do some wiring, plumbing, etc., but it made no difference to him, it was the home of their dreams; on two acres sitting affront a lake.
Currently, Mark is having to take 15 medications a day to protect his face and paralyzed portions of the right side of his body. The medications and additional cleaning supplies needed for protecting Marks’ exposed face are costing his family over $300 dollars a day.
Mark, who before the trauma, was working four jobs to support his wife and children, is no longer able to work due to the blindness and paralysis. He has began receiving Social Security and Medicaid, but is far from being able to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
Our goal is to raise money to help pay for the medical bills that Mark and his family have been left with and to help discover the causes of his horrific experience. As a community, let us help make this something that doesn’t debilitate Mark and his family any further. Mark and his family have lived through a horror that to many of us is unimaginable.<
Enviro-Cure (a testing and remediation company from Georgia), and EMSL Analytical, one of the world’s largest and best testing companies – in cooperation with Mold-Help – has generously donated their time, materials, and resources to thoroughly test to discover if Mark Tatum’s home indeed has toxic mold.
The results will be published on this site. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Please direct them to Mark, Nancy, Beverly, or the author, Susan. This is a fully interactive website.
Comments from Some Viewers
Hello Mark and Mrs. Tatum… my name is Scott and I’m from the UK I’m 17… and I saw your story on Ripley’s….. you story was very heart warming and showed me a new light in people… your bravery outstands me, more than anyone I have ever seen… a the moment I awaiting to get into the army in January.. but once I start getting paid I would be honored if you would accepted donations off me on a monthly basis…. keep on fighting. GOD bless you both.
from Scott and Merry Christmas….. England
Dear Mark: I saw you and your wife on the Rob Nelson show. You are truly one of God’s gifts today. I have had skin cancer since I was 8 years old and know what you might have been going though, but as a child, I prayed to God everyday and asked him to take the ugliness away and in turn I would be a good boy the rest of my life. and my prying paid off, but I still have to be very careful, in what I do in life. I am going to speak to my wife and ask her if we can send you some money, I’m not rich but I can do this. you made me cry and remind me of the days of my face when I was young.
God Bless you and your family, Ken Resendez
Dear Mark, You are an inspiring human being. I love you sense of humor and concern for children and the effects of your altered appearance. Thank you SOOO much for telling your story publicly and letting others know the potentially devastating effects of mold. Any chance you want to challenge the Texas Medical Association report that says mold cannot make anyone sick…? Just a thought. I am sure you have other priorities to deal with. I regret that I cannot send you and money towards your medical expenses at this time. Will put you in my prayers and see if I can come up with some creative ideas to offer more support.
Big Hug to you and the family, Teresa Van Deusen
We stumbled upon your website and it deeply touched us. Right now we are praying to the Lord Jesus Christ and asking Him to help you go through this deep trial that you face. To encourage you, it is not too late or impossible for Almighty God to heal you and make you completely whole again. For the last 9 months I have been near death 10-12 times with a life threatening respiratory problem due to a toxic mold exposure. After seeing endless physicians who are puzzled and taking countless medications, the Lord Jesus Christ chose to heal me completely 3 weeks ago. Though I don’t deserve anything at all, I thank Him and praise Him. I now pray that He will do the same for you in His time. God bless you Mark and your family. It is my hope that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. He is the only hope there is for all of us. I say this from my heart. We will be praying for you.
Pastor Larry Mowe & Family Massachusetts
I feel so bad for what you have been through and admire your strength. I don’t think I would have made it through such an ordeal you have been through. It is amazing you survived. God bless you.
Janine Turning Washington
Q. Was Mark’s immune system compromised prior too his infection?
Deana Carry Texas
A. Mark had some issues with his health. He had several surgeries prior to his infection. This is not too rare. The surgeries were due to injuries associated with his work (neck, back, hip).
I feel deeply sorry for Mark Tatum and his family and will remember them in my personal prayers. I would like to know if penicillium and aspergillus were determined to be the cause of his fungal sinus infections. I also have these two molds in my home.
Rebecca S. Charleston, S.C.