Chatting somehow seems off-limits here. Even though the sofas are actually comfortable, the chairs aren't that awful hospital molded plastic, and the magazines are current, we're suddenly bereft of speech.
In our pink hospital gowns, there seems to be nothing - and everything - to say.
Every year, I march into that waiting room and try for nonchalance. I always pause at the water fountain, because anxiety has made me parched. And I look at my watch compulsively, because waiting of any sort is a special kind of torture for me. Waiting for a mammogram is even more so.
But I'd never miss this diagnostic test. And yes, I'm enormously grateful that it's available.
That doesn't mean that I'm not apprehensive about what the verdict will be once I meet that gigantic machine that will look inside my body, specifically at my breast tissue.
Even as we sit in this dense silence, we all know that it's pretty much the luck of the draw as to who gets the good news and who gets the bad.
As I finally hear my name called, an almost unwelcome break in the silence, I study that technician's face for signs that she'll bring me good luck. Yes, it's irrational. But there it is.
A few times in these many years of having uneventful mammograms, there have been minor scares, the kind that make your heart lurch. The technician walks off with the films, and returns to retake some.
"Is anything wrong?" I've heard myself ask in a voice I barely recognize as my own. "No, just routine," the technician will answer.
But she understands my panic.
Like many women, I fear breast cancer because it feels epidemic these days, and nobody can seem to explain why. Not all the good, clean living in the world can give you a guarantee that you won't be the one in eight to get the bad news.
It's happened to colleagues, neighbors, young women, women in their 80s. It's happened randomly in a cosmic kind of breast-tissue crapshoot.
The good news is that today breast cancer is no longer shrouded in secrecy, a whispered, terrifying death sentence. We've come a long way since my mother's best friend died of breast cancer decades ago, when all we knew was that Vivian was "not well."
As the mother of three daughters and the grandmother of three girls, I want to see the day when science unlocks the mystery of breast cancer. Or there's a vaccine. Or a surefire predictor.
But for now, I'm enormously grateful that I had my annual mammogram last month.
I'm overjoyed that the report I was handed had the word normal printed in bold letters.
Gratitude? It's encapsulated in that single word.
On my way back to the dressing room, I wanted to dance. Instead, I smiled at the women still sitting in that silent room.
I was sending my unspoken hope that they, too, would want to exit dancing.
E-mail Sally Friedman at email@example.com.