"There's nothing you can do but sit there really," says Chavez, a general contractor in Sandia Park, New Mexico.
When artist Catherine Veblen showed up with a cart full of art supplies one day, he thought, "What the heck, I'll try my hand at this."
Chavez, his wife and sister-in-law sat around a table and painted and drew. Chavez now has about 15 art cards he made that he sends as greeting-card notes to various people -- including the head of the UNM Cancer Center, who displays it on her desk.
"The art helped me pass the time away and gave me something to do creatively that I wasn't doing because I was pretty depressed," Chavez says. "I didn't have the energy to do much physical work (but) ... I was able to sit at a table and be creative and not exhaust myself."
The experience also spurred him to take on creative endeavors in his own life.
"The neatest thing about it was I went home and started doing artwork," says Chavez, who is back at work although still undergoing chemotherapy. "It was a great, great inspiration."
He's not the only one inspired. Musician Dave Hoover recalls standing by an elevator with a cancer patient who had just listened to him play the harp.
"I almost forgot why we were here," she told him.