AN inspirational Barrow teacher who is fighting to beat breast cancer at 33 is aiming to take on a tough sponsored challenge.

Danielle Fitzsimons. JON GRANGER Danielle Fitzsimons, a Year Two class teacher at St Pius X Catholic Primary School, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October.

The mum-of-two had to leave the Barrow school that month to start treatment at Furness General Hospital Oncology Unit.

The mum of Asha, 12 and Vinnie, four, will have her fourth chemotherapy treatment next week.

Family and friends of the popular teacher are getting behind her to help raise awareness and funds for Cancer Research UK. The Fighting Fitz team has events planned for each month of 2016.

The Dryatholon - an alcohol free January - raised around £1,000 in the first week alone.

Miss Fitzsimons thanked everyone for their wonderful support.

She said: "The amount of effort that everyone is putting in, family, friends, the school community, and people on Facebook, it's all great.

"We wanted to see something positive come out of a negative and give something back.

"There are days when you don't feel great and this just picks you up and spurs you on. I'm not the only person who has been affected by cancer in our school, so the charity is close to people's hearts.

"It's something I have to get through and I'm fighting it."

Remarkably Miss Fitzsimons has her sights set on being part of the Fighting Fitz Coniston to Barrow team in May.

She said: "I've done the Keswick to Barrow and I knew I probably would not manage to do that, but lots of people have signed up for the Coniston to Barrow, including my daughter, and I just thought 'why can't I give it a go?' This is just another goal to aim for and work towards.

"We want to raise as much money and awareness as we can, I want to be part of as many of events as I can.

"It's nice to look ahead to all these events because this will be a tough year with treatments, having surgery and starting radiotherapy, this will keep me going. Having a positive attitude helps you get through."

Miss Fitzsimons thanked the FGH staff, saying: "The team at the hospital are great. They are so uplifting and upbeat. Everyone is happy."

The teacher is grateful to be able to speak to other St Pius staff who have overcome cancer, such as school volunteer Brenda Evans. Mrs Evans is baking cakes to raise money for the cause.

St Pius headteacher Amy Bates said: "Danielle is amazing and an inspiration to all of us."

Gemma Carter, a teaching assistant at school said: "Danielle is a much loved member of staff and has coped amazingly so far with her illness. Staff, children and parents are all behind her 100 per cent and will be with her all the way. The amount of support given to team Fighting Fitz already is fantastic and shows what a special person Danielle is. We can't wait for her to return to school as we are all missing her and the staff room is far too quiet without her."

Miss Fitzsimons has been able to keep in touch with her class through cards and their teacher Hannah Brooks.

She said: "I came to the Christmas play and popped in to see the kids.

"It was quite emotional seeing them. I had taught them for half a term and my niece is in that class too. To find out the news I couldn't teach them any longer hit me hard, that was the only thing that upset me. I think I dealt with the fact I had cancer because I knew I would just fight it, because that's in my nature, but to not come to work everyday and do a job I love, that's what made me cry. The children are full of laughter and fun."