At Earlier.org, we are always asked why we wear our ribbon “upside down.” With Friends For an Earlier Breast Cancer Test®, there is always a personal connection.

In the early formative years of the organization, a local advertising agency decided to generously help the organization with logo design and collateral information. It was our good fortune to work with a wonderful and talented young woman, Mandy LeBeau, who was an Account Manager with the company. After she grasped and understood the mission of the organization and the realization of the opportunity that was ours, Mandy suggested that we turn the ribbon upside down to show that Friends is looking at breast cancer from a different perspective.

Then she began to tell us her story. Mandy was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer at 26 years of age. She was young in her career, her experiences, her hopes and her life. Mandy epitomizes for whom we are working. There was never a question, then or now, that the upside down ribbon was the right choice and it will be a symbol of our organization forever.

Mandy succumbed to inflammatory breast cancer at 31 years of age. She never had a chance to realize her dreams or truly experience life. This is unacceptable. We, collectively, cannot turn our heads.

Mandy will always be remembered in the work of our organization because of the “upside down” pink ribbon.

Marthas Bio

The lady behind the cause

Ask any of her friends and they will tell you... Martha did everything right. She was trim and fit, exercised religiously, and had an excellent diet; she was the picture of health. Yet she, like millions of other American women, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to Martha, who has no history of breast cancer in her family. Fortunately, Martha’s family does have a history of persistence and ingenuity instilled by her inventor father and industrious mother. These qualities led Martha to found Friends You Can Count On, the nation’s first research funding organization devoted solely to earlier detection, based in Greensboro, North Carolina. “I had a cancerous tumor,” explains Martha, “that went undiscovered in a mammogram.” Three months later, thanks to a scratch from Sherlock, the family’s frisky Chocolate Lab, Martha noticed a lump in her breast. During surgery to remove this benign lump, Martha’s cautious doctor “did a little exploring” and discovered the cancerous tumor on the chest wall. Now Martha is a 24-hour-a-day advocate for earlier detection breast cancer research- new research that will find the earliest possible method to detect breast cancer, before a tumor has ever formed...

Meet our friend Shirley

"Shirley" is a wire dress form, created to demonstrate the magnitude of the impact that breast cancer imposes. She has been present at most Earlier.org events since the inception of the organization.

Shirley is a symbol of womanhood and the unity that is shared through the disease of breast cancer. Men, women & children from across the globe select a section of ribbon and write a name or names of those in their lives who they want to honor or remember for their fight with breast cancer.  Some are writing their own names.  Others share messages of hope and encouragement. 

"Shirley" represents the courage that each one of these people has personally demonstrated in their own fight. As a whole, "Shirley" is a stunning visual reminder the of the tremendous impact of this disease and that we, collectively, must do a better job of changing the picture of breast cancer.

Shirley Wire Frame