05/22/2008 at 12:00 AM EDT
contestant Luke Menard
has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a relative of the singer confirms to PEOPLE.
Menard, 29, thought he had walking pneumonia when he first sought medical treatment for a persistent cough. After doctors ran several tests, they found a mass behind his heart and removed a node from under his left collarbone.
According to the relative, a biopsy showed the mass to be a symptom of Stage Two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
While in Los Angeles, Menard, who frequently visited Idol
to watch the show since being voted off on March 6
, received an outpouring of support from his castmates. David Cook
and Carly Smithson
visited him at the hospital, while he received encouraging emails from other finalists. "That really meant a lot to him," the relative says, adding that he and Cook are close.
Now back in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Ind., with his wife Lara, Menard is in treatment for the disease. "He is surrounded by his family," the relative says. "They want to help him beat this and move on."
His odds are good: with treatment, the survival rate is about 95 percent.