05/29/2008 at 12:00 AM EDT
Preparing for the American Idol
finale means long hours and hard work. But days before David Cook
was declared the season seven winner, he dropped everything to visit with fellow Top 24 contestant Luke Menard
in a Los Angeles hospital.
Menard, 29, was diagnosed
with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"I love Luke and I just wanted to show up and make sure that he understood that I love him and know that if there's anything I can do for him and his wife, sign me up, you know?" Cook tells PEOPLE. "Luke, Michael Johns
, Jason Yeager
and myself, we kind of buddied up one day at Hollywood week," Cook explains. "We called ourselves the four horsemen. Any time one of your own is going through something as horrible as that, it makes everything else seem a little bit insignificant.
"Cancer," says Cook, "is a very big part of my existence." Cook's older brother Adam has been battling brain cancer for 10 years. "I'm excited to be put in the spotlight where I can hopefully do something to help other ." --Monica Rizzo