Old Cable Pro Zeller Stops to Smell the Roses When the clock struck midnight and Cohort’s Warren Zeller popped the cork on 2007, little did he know he was celebrating would become the most important year of his life. In March, three months after turning 50, he was told he had a rare and potentially deadly form of lymphoma. Suddenly, Warren’s world spiraled out of control. Where he had once been concerned with marketing his company’s demographic data to MSOs, he was now focused on one thing and one thing only: the butt-ugly 800-lb gorilla sitting smack dab in the middle of his life. Soon he and his sister were on a plane headed to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York, in hopes that she could be a stem cell donor for him. And shortly thereafter, he would start chemotherapy, a rigorous regime in which deadly chemicals and got pumped into his body, in hopes they’d kill the gorilla without burning down the zoo. Given the rare nature of his cancer, doctors had little history to draw on and told Warren, candidly, while they hoped chemo would work, they were still in largely uncharted waters. At that point, Warren, a former marketer with TCI and Starz Encore, among others, started writing a blog on the Internet, detailing the ups and downs of his battle for life and the meteoric shift in his priorities. He also produced a video, which you can still see on YouTube, which opens with a speech that Warren loves; the late basketball coach Jim Valvano telling people to never give up, just days after he learned he had terminal cancer. Now, unlike some folks who are uncomfortable at the mere mention of cancer, or who are unwilling bare their souls about anything, much less life, love and family, Warren harbors no such inhibitions. God love him, his life is an open book, and if you scratch the surface of Warren Zeller, there’s a good chance at some point a ground spring of emotions will come gushing forth. And that was true, even before the cancer. In fact, a gushing of emotions occurred a few times when Warren and I talked this week. And believe me, not all the emotions were his. I’ve known Warren for over a decade, and I worked with him when he was at Starz Encore and I was a CTAM. I knew him to be a good guy and always found something utterly refreshing about his steadfast refusal to pretend to be anything he wasn’t. What Warren is, I discovered, is a devoted husband and father-someone who, now more than ever, places family above all else. In fact, there’s nothing in second place. Warren told me about how his twins, Brooke and Jeffrey, came home to be with him rather than stay at college for the summer. In fact, Jeff who is at Stanford, gave up an internship with Apple to come home to Colorado. Warren’s voice cracked as he told me that, as it did when he told me how people like Peter Barton’s widow, Laura, Michelle Sie and his former boss, John Sie, gave of themselves during his darkest hours. Warren also has a soft spot in his heart for Time Warner Cable’s Sam Howe and his wife, Becky, a college friend, who put him and his sister up during their Sloan-Kettering trip. Now, Warren is back at work, at least part time. His cancer is in remission, and he’s once again thinking as much about demographics as cancer. And he’s delighted to be back at that point. But don’t kid yourself; things are different too. “I don’t need to be in the left lane nearly so much anymore,” he told me, adding: “I’m so thankful for every little thing now. I never thought I’d get to see my son Charlie’s football games this fall, and you wouldn’t believe how grateful I am for that. Every day I have now is a gift.”

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