06/03/2009 AT 11:40 AM EDT
With the medical community still seeking answers to the disease that claimed the lives of Barack Obama's mother and former Harper's Bazaar
editor Liz Tilberis, the president has offered a special message to readers of that fashion magazine, vowing to go to war against the disease.
"My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53," Obama says in Harper's Bazaar
, "and in those last painful months she was more worried about paying medical bills than getting well.
"For millions of Americans, my mother's story is all too familiar. That is why we need health-care reform that guarantees affordable coverage for every American who wants it and prevents insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most."
Adds Obama, "We know this fight will not be easy, but we have gone far too long without necessary reforms to our health-care system. Now is the time to commit ourselves to waging a war against cancer as aggressive as the war cancer wages against us."