Former ‘American Idol' Contender Luke Menard ‘Cancer Free'

Former “American Idol” Season 7 contender Luke Menard is cancer free.

The Crawfordsville, Indiana based singer, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, just days after being voted off the FOX reality show this past March. But he told that the holidays have brought him good news about his health.

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“I’m cancer free according to my last test scan that I had,” Luke told Access down the phone from a wintry Indiana. “It’s been exciting to get that news.”

The singer, who released his sixth album with a cappella group Chapter 6 – “With The Windows Down” — on December 2, still has a little over a dozen radiation treatments to go to target the scar tissue left over following months of chemo. But, the spirited 30-year-old said he was thrilled to end 2008 on a high.

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“We were always praying for this news — to be cancer free. When you’re going through chemo, it’s kind of a one-day at a time thing. You don’t know how you’re gonna feel when you wake up in the morning and sometimes you’re kind of sick and you’re throwing up. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It’s definitely been a year to remember and a year to forget — being on ‘American Idol,’ and days after I was eliminated being told I had cancer. It’s been a crazy year.”

But his year was enriched by the friends Luke picked up during his “Idol” tenure; friends who came through when he received his cancer diagnosis while still in Los Angeles, following his elimination from the Top 24.

“All the producers from ‘American Idol,’ 19 Entertainment… David Cook, who won ‘American Idol,’… he has been extremely helpful, even financially with medical bills. 19 Entertainment has helped out with medical bills, so it’s been way more than I expected,” Luke said.

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And since his medical insurance didn’t cover all the treatments, deductibles and X-Rays, more friends helped out when Luke returned home from the “Idol” experience.

“People in my hometown have had eight or nine different benefits to help out with medical bills… Fans from all over the world, they would just send money and send checks and say, ‘Hey, we just want to help you out.’ It’s really cool to look back and say, ‘There’s kind of a reason I was on that show.’ This all kind of lined up that way.”

Though much of the year was taken up by treatment, the ruggedly handsome Midwesterner said he took comfort in his music – touring with Chapter 6 and working on solo material.

“It’s kind of been my therapy throughout the last seven months, being diagnosed and then going through chemo and going through radiation. It’s kind of been my outlet to get away from the hospitals, to get away from the doctors and just kind of get away from everything,” he explained. “I recorded a little bit in Nashville, when I first started chemo. I went down there about four weeks in a row.”

While in Nashville, Luke said he focused on writing Christian music. And, at times, he found partners to pen tunes with including notable Christian songwriters Jamie Moore, Jason Walker, Aaron Rice and one “Idol” alumni.

“I met up with a lot of writers from different publishing companies in Nashville. One name that you might be familiar with if you watch ‘American Idol’ – Chris Sligh — was on last season,” Luke revealed. “He’s been doing really well in the Christian market and he’s kind of established himself as a pretty good songwriter, so I actually co-wrote with him a couple of times.”

Though his band has wrapped up their tour in the run up to Christmas, Luke is lining up more music for next year, both with the group and on his own.

“I’m hoping the first three months of the year can probably be a little bit of both,” he said. “ I’m hoping to still tour with them a little bit… [And] I certainly want to do some things of my own and hope to get some music out there as a solo artist.”

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